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New Hampshire

New Hampshire made great temporary progress in improving its mail voting system during the pandemic. The State can continue to strengthen its election system by codifying these temporary reforms, including implementing no-excuse absentee voting, authorizing drop boxes, and establishing ballot pre-processing. In addition, New Hampshire should implement several other voter-centric reforms, detailed above. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

New Hampshire should continue their enormous progress in expanding mail voting. By passing legislation to make no-excuse absentee voting permanent, New Hampshire can give their citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient.
New Hampshire can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its semi-permanent absentee voting list, on which voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply. Expanding New Hampshire’s permanent absentee option to all residents and making the list truly permanent would save the state significant expenses by cutting down on the requests it needs to process.
Creating an online portal for voters to register to vote and request an absentee ballot that feeds directly into the voter registration system is an important step to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps to process a large amount of applications. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
New Hampshire temporarily implemented drop boxes as a result of the pandemic; however, the State should make these boxes a permanent fixture in future elections. These drop boxes reduce strain on the postal system and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want extra reassurance that their ballots will arrive on time. We also recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling places and other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. Prepaying postage on ballot return envelopes can increase return rates by ensuring that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks shortly after election day is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner, as it is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half. Current law allows for ballots to be requested up to one day before the election, and far too short of a timespan for a ballot to be mailed and then be returned by mail by close of polls. We recommend that not only does a state allow the physical postmark on a ballot, but also to integrate into the USPS system for electronic postmarks to serve as validation that a ballot was mailed on time.
Ballot tracking software such as Ballot Scout or BallotTrax can be a very cost-effective tool to improve New Hampshire’s current ballot tracking system. It adds a layer of data for the elections office and provides a means of contacting voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope. An expanded notification system helps keep rejection rates low and increases voter confidence and participation.
As use of absentee ballots increases, it is important to make sure that the ballots received are being filled out by the individuals they were sent to. Signature verification procedures ensure the security of the election process while also streamlining ballot processing.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure any correctable issues with their ballot quickly and simply to lower rejection rates. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day will help New Hampshire get faster election results. New Hampshire allowed some preprocessing as a result of the pandemic; by making at least 7 days of preprocessing permanent policy, election officials could count ballots more quickly and voters would get more time to cure their ballots.

Recent Legislation

As of May 29, 2021

New Hampshire successfully implemented reforms that temporarily increased access to its absentee voting system during the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 10th 2020, the Secretary of State issued an order that allowed all voters to vote absentee throughout the 2020 election cycle. In addition, the Secretary’s Select Committee on 2020 Emergency Election Support issued a June report that authorized the use of drop boxes manned by elections officials. In fact, it passed SB89 to ensure if the For the People Act passes, existing restrictive state law regarding absentee voting will remain in place for state and local offices. The other mail voting related bills to pass in 2021 were HB 555, which increased access to absentee applications for incarcerated voters, and SB 31, which makes technical changes to absentee applications.