The NH Secretary of State’s Office has launched an accessible absentee voting system for people with print disabilities. The new system allows voters with print disabilities, including people who are blind, to request and fill out an absentee ballot privately and independently. The system will be used in addition to the existing absentee voting system. Voters who are blind or have print disabilities can use the accessible system to cast an absentee ballot during the September 8 state primary election. More information about the accessible absentee voting system, including how to request a ballot can be found on the Secretary of State’s website, https://sos.nh.gov/elections/voters/register-to-vote/absentee/accessible-voting/.
Until now, voters with print disabilities who were unable to mark a paper absentee ballot themselves had to relied on assistance to complete their ballot. Because of this, voters who had print disabilities were not able to vote privately.
The new system allows voters with qualifying disabilities to request, receive, and mark an absentee ballot electronically. Once the voter has chosen their candidates, they print out their ballot and return it in an absentee ballot envelope for processing.
Requesting an accessible absentee ballot can be done online. To do so, voters can complete the application available on the Secretary of State’s website, https://sos.nh.gov/media/bp5lbgvp/application-for-an-accessible-electronic-absentee-ballot.pdf. Voters requesting electronically delivered ballots must also certify that they have a disability preventing them from filling out a traditional paper absentee ballot.
Once a request for an accessible absentee ballot has been processed, an electronic version of the ballot is sent to the voter. At the same time, official absentee envelopes are mailed to the voter to return their completed ballot. Once the voter receives an electronic ballot, they are able to fill it out on their computer and print it. The electronic ballots are designed to be compatible with commercial screen reading and marking software.
Returning a completed ballot is done through the mail, not the computer/internet. Voters will mail their completed ballot to their city or town clerk for processing. Voters may also hand-deliver their ballots after printing them out.
The accessible absentee ballot will look different than the paper ballots submitted by voters without print disabilities and it must be hand counted.
Voters with print disabilities may also request accessible voter registration forms via the accessible absentee ballot application available at https://sos.nh.gov/media/bp5lbgvp/application-for-an-accessible-electronic-absentee-ballot.pdf.
Visit the NH Secretary of State’s website https://sos.nh.gov/elections/voters/register-to-vote/absentee/accessible-voting/ for more specific information and instructions about how to request, mark, and return an accessible absentee ballot.