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Voter Registration Soon May Get Easier in N.H.

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Monday, April 20, 2020   

CONCORD, N.H. -- Registering to vote may get easier in New Hampshire with state officials expected to release new guidelines as early as this week.

Voting rights advocates say they expect Secretary of State Bill Gardner to announce changes that could make voter registration forms more widely available -- possibly by putting the forms online so people could download them.

Liz Tentarelli, president of the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, says right now registering to vote is pretty cumbersome.

"To register to vote, you have to either go to your town or city clerk's office in person, in advance of the election, or you have to wait in line at the polling place on Election Day," she points out.

Registering on Election Day makes it hard to practice social distancing.

Job losses linked to the coronavirus pandemic are expected to force many people to downsize and move over the next six months, which could drive a surge in voter registrations.

Tentarelli says the new rules should make it easier to get a form and register to vote in person, but she does not expect the state to allow people to actually apply online.

"In the long run, we would love to have online voter registration," she states. "We would love to have automated voter registration at the DMV. If you get a new driver's license address, you also change your voting."

Last September, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have established no-excuse absentee voting, something that already is in place in 28 other states.

But last week, he announced that "fear of COVID-19" would be considered a valid excuse to request an absentee ballot for the September primary and the November general election.


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