AARP Guide to Voting This November in New Hampshire
The general election is just a few weeks away, and Granite State voters are eying their voting options. Earlier this month, Beverly Cotton voted by absentee ballot in New Hampshire’s September 8 primary. Despite the ongoing pandemic—which is causing many older voters to consider voting by absentee ballot for the first time―for Bev, it was business as usual.
“Absentee voting went well,” Bev reports cheerfully, “partially because I am involved with a couple of nonpartisan groups who make absentee voting awareness and education a priority, and partially because we have a town clerk who put the work in and was open to information to keep her informed in the changing processes.”
While not every voter in New Hampshire is as connected as Bev, AARP New Hampshire is stepping up to make sure Granite State voters like her, 50+ and committed to making their voice heard through their vote, feel confident about absentee voting heading into the November 3 general election. As a nonprofit, nonpartisan group dedicated to advocating for the most reliable voting demographic in America, AARP is uniquely qualified to ensure their members get out and vote. With this important mission in mind, AARP has launched the “Protect Voters 50+” initiative, which aims to empower all voters 50+ with the knowledge to vote safely and effectively this November.
Todd Fahey, AARP New Hampshire’s State Director, explains, “Protect Voters 50+ has two main objectives. One is to educate people about how to vote safely by absentee ballot or in person. The second is to make sure our members know where candidates stand on the issues that most concern them.”
The first objective of Protect Voters 50+, absentee voting is as important now as it has ever been, but it’s nothing new. Even before COVID-19, voters like Bev were taking advantage of this helpful option. “I am immunosuppressed as a result of my immune system not fully recovering from chemo,” says Bev. “I’m normally extra careful during the normal flu season to minimize my exposure to getting sick, which is why I choose to vote by absentee ballot, but this COVID pandemic brought it to a whole new level. It is important to me to be able to exercise my right to democracy, to vote and to do it safely.”
If you’ve never voted by absentee ballot in New Hampshire, it might make you a little anxious. Yet the truth is, voting by absentee ballot is simple and secure. All you need to do is make sure you’re registered to vote, request an absentee ballot, then mail it into your city or town clerk before Election Day or drop it off at your polling place on Election Day. Here’s some further information:
Due to COVID-19, state, city and town officials have been making it easier to register and request an absentee ballot.
To Register to Vote: Call or email your town or city clerk’s office here and request the proper forms, then mail them back by October 21. You can also do this in-person on Election Day, but it requires a driver’s license or non-driver ID from any state as proof of identification and age and a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization document as proof of citizenship. It may be easier and safer to do it via mail.
Keep in mind, AARP is encouraging voters to apply for absentee ballots as soon as possible to ensure they arrive in time to be returned before the November election. For the general election, mailed-in absentee ballots must be received by your clerk by 5 p.m. on November 3, Election Day. Hand-delivered ballots must arrive by 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day or to the clerk at a polling place by 5 p.m. on Election Day. If you need more information or help, AARP provides such resources as well.
Both Bev and AARP echo state officials in emphasizing that absentee voting is safe and reliable, despite what is sure to be an increase in absentee voting this year.
“I feel very confident in the state’s ability to handle the increase in absentee voting,” says Bev. She points to how successful New Hampshire’s primary election was. While the processing may have taken a bit longer, there were no glitches, and results were available the next day. “Our town officials take their responsibilities very seriously and did what they needed to do to prepare the polls for safety, as well as make themselves ready to absorb the influx in absentee ballots. That is not to say that it wasn’t a laudable effort! I’m sure there are quite a few tired election officials out there, but they really did good work!”
Bev also notes how grateful she is to have an organization like AARP looking out for her interests. She can have such confidence in her vote because she’s not only a member of AARP but a faithful volunteer as well. “AARP unfailingly supports the 50+ population in so many ways,” she says, “with legislative efforts, educational opportunities, social engagement, both locally and nationally. I have always felt strongly that AARP has my best interests at heart as I age and my needs and concerns change.”
Focusing on the issues important to the 50+ demographic remains at the forefront of AARP’s mission, says state director Fahey. “We’re always focused on Social Security and Medicare. This year, we have a particular focus on Social Security, something important to 312,000+ Granite Staters who receive retirement or disability benefits from this program. We want to know how candidates are going to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for current and future generations.”
Most importantly, Fahey notes, AARP members want to ensure that current and future benefits, which are self-financed and off budget, are not reduced as part of any deficit reduction. “On behalf of our 38 million members and all hard-working Americans who pay into Social Security, AARP has asked President Trump to explain his comments about eliminating dedicated funding for the Social Security program.”
Politicians are likely to listen. AARP represents the nation’s most reliable voting bloc. With this in mind, AARP has compiled 5 questions they are encouraging members to ask their candidates this election cycle. In addition, Granite Staters should also keep these issues in mind: creating livable communities and employment opportunities for Americans of all ages, as well as increasing the number of qualified healthcare workers for both home and community-based care.
“Our members pay attention to what candidates say or don’t say,” says Fahey. “They vote, and they want to hear candidates talk about issues that matter to them, like protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices. These voters cherish their right to vote.”
And with AARP’s help, voters like Bev will vote safely in 2020 and make their voices heard. If you want more information, please see AARP’s comprehensive New Hampshire voting guide.