Voters With Disabilities

  • The New Hampshire Constitution, as amended by the voters of New Hampshire in 1984, requires that all polling places be accessible and that absentee voting be available to voters who are unable to vote in person:   

    “The general court shall provide by law for voting by qualified voters who at the time of the biennial or state elections, or of the primary elections therefor, or of city elections, or of town elections by official ballot, are absent from the city or town of which they are inhabitants, or who by reason of physical disability are unable to vote in person, in the choice of any officer or officers to be elected or upon any question submitted at such election. Voting registration and polling places shall be easily accessible to all persons including disabled and elderly persons who are otherwise qualified to vote in the choice of any officer or officers to be elected or upon any question submitted at such election.”  

    New Hampshire Constitution, Part First – Bill of Rights, Article 11.  

     

  •  

    Frequently Asked Questions

    (Click anywhere on the question text to view the answer.)
     

  • What is required for a polling place to be accessible?

    Each polling place must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the New Hampshire building code.  The Election Procedure Manualprovides a comprehensive explanation of the requirements for accessibility, starting at page 117.  In general, a polling place must have: 

    1. A van-accessible parking space, if there is a parking lot.  The lot must have the required number of accessible spaces. 
    2. A clear and reasonably smooth route from the accessible parking spaces to the building entrance. 
    3. If the route from parking or the sidewalk to the room where voting occurs includes a significant change in elevation, a ramp or elevator may be required. 
    4. The accessible entrance to the building must be clearly marked.   
    5. The accessible entrance must accommodate a wheelchair and be easily opened by a person with a disability. 
    6. The route from the entry door to the voting area must be clearly marked and free of obstructions. 
    7. An accessible voting booth with a shelf or table. 
    8. Tabletop voting screens, which allow a voter to sit at a table and mark a ballot. 

     

    The New Hampshire Attorney General enforces the election laws, including the requirements for accessible voting.  The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office uses this checklist to inspect polling places on Election Day.  The checklist provides a description of what a polling place must have to be accessible and addresses other legal requirements for polling places. 

     

    How does New Hampshire make the ballot marking process accessible?
    At each state election with a federal office on the ballot, each polling place is equipped with an accessible voting system to assist voters with a disability to independently and privately mark a ballot.  A tablet computer attached to a printer allows a voter to produce a marked ballot using either an audio or an enhanced visual interface.  Local election officials provide the voter with instructions on using the system.  The voter then may mark his or her ballot independently and privately.
    Can I choose to have another person help me mark my ballot?

    A voter who needs assistance marking his or her ballot at the polling place may obtain assistance from an election official or a person of the voter’s choosing:   

        RSA 659:20 Assistance in Voting.  Any voter who declares to the moderator under oath that said voter needs assistance marking his or her ballot shall, upon the voter’s choice and request after the moderator has informed the voter of the accessible voting options that are available at the polling place, receive the assistance of one or both of the inspectors of election detailed for that purpose by the moderator or of a person of the voter's choice provided that the person is not the voter's employer or union official.  Such person so assisting shall be sworn, shall mark the ballot as directed by said voter, and shall thereafter give no information regarding the same.  Such person so assisting shall leave the space within the guardrail with the voter.   

    Can I vote at the polling place if I am unable to enter the building due to my disability?

    Yes.  All polling places must be accessible.  However, should a voter be unable to enter the polling place to vote due to disability, the voter may have an application for an absentee ballot, an affidavit envelope, and an absentee ballot delivered to the voter in a vehicle outside the polling place.  The election official will give the voter an opportunity to privately and independently mark the ballot and complete the affidavit required of all absentee voters.  An election official will take the marked absentee ballot, sealed in the affidavit envelope, into the polling place.  The absentee ballot will be processed and counted in the same manner as all other absentee ballots.

    659:20-a. Assistance in Voting; Disabled Voter.  Any voter, after appearing at the polling place location prior to the closing of the polls to vote in person, who declares to the moderator under oath that said voter is unable to access a polling place due to disability shall, upon the voter’s request, have the required documents delivered to the voter outside the guardrail by the town or ward clerk or one of his or her assistants.  The absentee ballot delivered by the town or ward clerk shall be processed using the same procedures as any other absentee ballot except that the cutoff time listed in RSA 657:22 shall not apply.

    Voting by absentee ballot in this manner is for use only in an emergency situation as a stop gap option in the event that an unforeseen accessibility issue arises.

     

      

     

     

    If I have a disability, can I receive assistance in marking an absentee ballot?

    Yes.  An absentee voter with a disability may receive assistance in voting from any person.     

    “Any person who assists a voter with a disability in executing” the application for an absentee ballot or the affidavit on the absentee ballot envelope “shall make a statement acknowledging the assistance on the application form [and on the affidavit] to assist the moderator when comparing signatures on election day”  RSA 657:4; RSA 657:7, II(b);RSA 657:17.     

    A different person may assist the voter with the application than the person who assists the voter with the affidavit.     

    The person assisting the voter must complete this statement, which is printed on the application and the affidavit: “I attest that I assisted the applicant in executing this form because he/she has a disability.  Signature____________Date________.”   

    When a voter receives assistance with requesting and/or marking an absentee ballot, the law makes an exception to the requirement that a voter’s signature on an application for an absentee ballot and on the affidavit envelope must appear to be made by the same person.  If the statement of assistance is completed on the application and/or affidavit envelope, the moderator will not compare the signatures.  On election day, if the absentee voter is registered and has not voted in person, the absentee ballot will be counted.