NH's Reputation as a Leader in Fair Elections May Be in Jeopardy - New Hampshire is fortunate to have higher than average civic engagement. Our state leaders often point to our status as the first-in-the-nation Presidential primary and our well-run elections as proof of the Granite State's exceptional civic involvement. In March 2021, Governor Sununu recently called New Hampshire "the gold standard" for its electoral system.
Recently, though, proposed laws creating deliberate barriers to voting in New Hampshire have tarnished its national reputation. National press reports now include New Hampshire in the same breath as Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina and other states known for their anti-voting bills targeting people of color, students and younger voters, the disabled, elders and other groups.
NH Needs an Educated, Civically-Engaged Workforce - Businesses and organizations large and small depend on an educated, civically-engaged workforce. In the 2011 U.S. Census, NH ranked as the 9th oldest state in the nation, and is again experiencing acute workforce shortages. The State of New Hampshire has recognized this, and supported programs like Stay, Work, Play NH to retain younger workers. We have excellent colleges, an amazing array of recreational activities, and cutting edge employers looking for employees.
Problem is, should New Hampshire's reputation slip further due to implementation of additional deliberate barriers to voting, students, younger workers, talent being recruited from out of state, and even companies considering expanding here may think long and hard before making a commitment.
Legislators Must Hear that Businesses Support a Healthy Democracy - Below is "Statement of Principles to Support New Hampshire's Democracy." We're asking your organization to consider signing on to these principles, which we will communicate to the whole of the New Hampshire legislature and executive branch.
We stand by to answer your questions about the Statement of Principles, or our nonpartisan, pro-voter organization, or to hear your suggestions and comments.
The Coalition for Open Democracy, a New Hampshire 501c3 nonpartisan, nonprofit organization which works on pro-voter democracy reforms.
Statement of Principles
by New Hampshire Businesses and Organizations which support a healthy democracy
I. We believe that a NH government of, by, and for its citizens must safeguard the precious freedom to vote for ALL of its eligible citizens.
II. For the NH Government to truly represent its citizens, it must guarantee universally accessible and secure voting, and ensure there are no existing or future barriers to exercise that right.
III. We will not support, with our contributions or our votes, any candidates or elected representatives who initiate, vote for, or support laws that make voting more difficult for NH citizens. Nor shall we support those who oppose laws to make the voting process more efficient.
IV. Just as true prosperity in NH requires that all businesses play on a level playing field, we must have a level playing field for our elections and politics. Our NH voting districts must be based on valid census information and be free of manipulation by partisan voting data, and to ensure this, the redistricting process must be public, and its methods disclosed.
V. Together, we believe that when the electoral system is fair, and the constitutional rights and values of our citizens are honored, our NH Government will truly be “of the people," our economy will be prosperous, and both will work for the greater good of all.
This statement and its signers will be communicated to
The Governor, the Executive Council, the NH Senate and House, and the NH Secretary of State
It's a scary time to vote in New Hampshire due to the presence of the coronavirus and Covid 19. Municipalities are only now starting to grapple with what changes will be necessary to maintain social distancing, sanitized surfaces, logistics of getting people in and out of the building, and keeping poll workers safe, many of whom are over 60 years old.
Fortunately, New Hampshire's Secretary of State has made temporary accommodations for any voter with Covid 19 concerns to be able to vote with an absentee ballot rather than in person.
This accommodation is effective for any municipal, state or federal election in 2020, the two biggest being the September 8, 2020 state primary for Governor, Executive Council, Senate, and State Representative, and the November 3, 2020 general election for those positions, U.S. Senate and President of the United States.
If you are ready to request your absentee ballot applications, go to your town's website or use the links below and download from the NH Secretary of State website.
Choose which form (updated 7/19/2020 with the COVID-19 Checkbox) you'd like to use:
Fill out by hand/sign by hand: Absentee Ballot Application from the NH Secretary of State
Fill out by computer/sign by hand: Type-in Absentee Ballot Application from the NH Secretary of State
This web guide will give you both the rules for requesting and filling out the absentee ballot request form, as well as filling out and returning the absentee ballot itself.
Thank you for protecting yourself and our poll workers!
Now that you've done something for YOU, will you help do something for OTHERS?
Print our poster (PDF), and hang copies in public places in your town
Post our social media pictures & messages about voting by absentee
Become a community resource and spread the word by particpating in our "Ask Me About Absentee" program. Email Brian Beihl for more info.
Thank You from
the staff and volunteers
of Open Democracy
Vote-by-mail absentee ballots have been used in New Hampshire since 1775, and 7-10% of ballots cast in NH elections are by absentee ballot. Absentee ballots are traditionally used when the voter will be out of state or far away from their town, on religious holidays, and other reasons specified below. There are two applications, one for town elections, and another for state and federal elections. For any questions specific to your town, your city or town clerk is the primary election officials dealing with absentee ballots.
Those issues which pertain specifically to absentee voting during the Covid 19 pandemic are listed in dark red, below.
Voting by Absentee Ballot in NH - Normal Circumstances
- Physical disability (and for 2020, concern with COVID-19)
- Religious observance
- Absence from City on day of election
- Employment obligations. For the purpose of absentee voting, the term "employment" shall include the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation.