by Joe Chen
Election officials recently determined all New Hampshire residents are eligible to cast absentee ballots for municipal, primary, and general elections to keep themselves and poll workers safe from COVID-19.
“New Hampshire is working to make sure a voter will not have to choose between their personal safety and exercising their right to vote,” David Scanlan, deputy secretary of state, told The Center Square.
Under the law, voters can cast absentee ballots due to a disability.
“This includes a voter who is quarantined, including self-quarantine, for any reason due to COVID-19,” Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said in a memo. “Compliance with general medical advice issued to the public by health officials is sufficient, individualized advice from the voter’s personal physician is not required.”
Even if the severity of the virus declines in the months ahead, any voter would still be able to cast an absentee ballot.
“It is reasonable to anticipate that voters may feel apprehension about voting in person in the September 2020 Primary and November 2020 General Elections,” the memo reads. “Thus, any voter who is unable to vote in person in the September 8, 2020 Primary Election or the November 3, 2020 General Election because of illness from COVID-19 or who fears that voting in person may expose himself/herself or others to COVID-19 will be deemed to come within the definition of ‘disability’ for purposes of obtaining an absentee ballot.”
As of Monday morning, there have been 1,392 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in New Hampshire and 41 deaths from COVID-19.
The memo did not address voter registration, but Nicholas Chong Yen, assistant attorney general, recently told NHPR that eligible voters don’t need to register in person and can use the absentee voter registration process.
“We are currently working through all of the issues posed by the Covid-19 virus on several different levels,” Scanlan told the Center Square. “We will continue to issue guidance statements moving forward and fully expect to have a workable plan well in advance of the fall elections that provides for poll worker training and voter education.”
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Joe Chen is a contributor to The Center Square.