On Thursday, May 30th, the New Hampshire Senate voted 13 – 11 to pass HB611 which would allow any voter who wishes, to cast his or her ballot by mail. Under current law, voters may only cast absentee ballots if they will be absent from the town or city where they live on election day, have a disability that prevents them from going to the polls, or have conflicts due to religious commitments, employment, the uncompensated care of children or infirm adults, or due to severe weather warnings. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for his signature of approval — or veto.
Passage of this bill will significantly impact the volume of absentee ballots that will need to be processed by NH election officials. During the 2016 State General Election, for example, 3,499 absentee ballots were cast in the City of Nashua. It would not be unreasonable to assume that this number could double for the 2020 State General Election if HB611 becomes law. However, supporters of the bill believe that a vote-by-mail option for all qualified voters in NH will increase involvement in the political process.
In a statement released following the Senate’s approval of this bill, the prime sponsor, Rep. Katherine Rogers of Concord, stated “It is time that we join the majority of states in America and increase access to the ballot box by allowing no-excuse absentee balloting….Allowing all eligible voters to access absentee ballots is not only fair, it ultimately increases involvement in the democratic process.”