The City of Dover's Voter Guide to the 2020 Election
Election Day is Nov. 3
The General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, is less than three weeks away. Below is information on how Dover residents can request and vote by absentee ballot, register to vote, and find their polling place for in-person voting. Sample ballots for each city ward can be viewed here on the City's 2020 General Election online resource.
The number of absentee ballots requested by Dover voters is already more than three times the number of absentee ballot requests in 2016. In the 2016 General Election, the Dover City Clerk's Office had issued 1,600 absentee ballots. As of mid-day Thursday, City Clerk Susan Mistretta said the Clerk's Office had mailed out 5,423 ballots to voters who had requested one. So far, it has received back 3,486 completed ballots.
Still time to request an absentee ballot
for Nov. 3 General Election
The General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 3, is now less than three weeks away, but there is still time to request an absentee ballot, whether by mail or by stopping into the City Clerk's Office at Dover City Hall. Registered voters may request an absentee ballot at the Clerk's Office up until Election Day.
Applications for an absentee ballot are available online here or at the City Clerk's Office. Any registered voter unable to vote on Election Day or who cannot make it to the polls because of a disability, religious observance, due to employment obligations, or any reason relating to COVID-19, may request an absentee ballot from the City Clerk's Office in person or by mail.
Please do not use a Sharpie or heavy marker to fill out absentee ballots. The ink from markers can seep through paper and make ballots challenging to read. Use only a black pen.
The City Clerk's Office is located in the Customer Service Center at City Hall. Its regular business hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The mailing address is 288 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820. The form to request an absentee ballot is available at the City Clerk's Election Information webpage.
Deadline to return absentee ballots
for General Election
If returning by mail, absentee ballots must be received at the City Clerk's Office by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2. The City Clerk's Office is located in the Customer Service Center at City Hall. The mailing address is 288 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820.
This year, the Secretary of State's Office will also allow absentee ballots to be delivered directly to voter's polling place. These ballots must be received at the polling place by 5 p.m. on the day of the election, Nov. 3, to be counted. Ballots must be received at the correct polling place. Residents can utilize the interactive Ward Map on the City Clerk's Election Information webpage to help locate what Dover ward they live in and the location of their ward's polling place.
The Secretary of State and Dover City Clerk urge those mailing in ballots to do so as soon as possible to avoid possible postal delays and to ensure it is received in time and is counted. Mistretta reports having mail delays with some absentee ballots already.
Returning an absentee ballot by mail requires a signed affidavit, included with the ballot and return envelope. If voting by absentee ballot due to COVID-19, sign under "Absence Because of Religious Observance or Physical Disability."
State election law limits who can drop off an absentee ballot in-person. It must be the voter or an immediate family member of the voter. However, there are provisions for those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
Absentee ballot drop boxes not allowed in NH
State law prohibits the use of a ballot drop box, Mistretta said. Ballots must be returned either in person or via mail. Next week, there will be a room staffed by an election clerk outside the Clerk's Office for voters to drop off their absentee ballots.
Checking status of absentee ballot
The Secretary of State's Office has an online tool to allow voters to see if their absentee ballot has been received. However, Mistretta said there have been a few circumstances where the state's website has not been updated to show that an absentee ballot has been received. Voters may also email Mistretta at firstname.lastname@example.org to verify if the Dover City Clerk's Office has received the ballot.
Registering to Vote
Residents can register to vote at the City Clerk's Office until the Supervisors of the Checklist meet on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. After Oct. 27, unregistered voters can still register to vote at their polling location. See the City Clerk's interactive Ward Map to find out what Dover ward you live in and the ward's polling location. State law also allows people to register by mail. Visit the Secretary of State's "Voting during COVID-19 state of emergency" for instructions on how to register by absentee.
To register in person, visit the City Clerk's Office at City Hall during regular hours, Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Unregistered voters can also register to vote on Election Day, Nov. 3. All new voters must complete a voter registration form. To vote, you must be a New Hampshire resident who will be 18 years of age or older on the day of the election, and a United States citizen. There is no minimum time required to have lived in the state before being allowed to register.
For more information, contact the City Clerk's Office at 516-6018.
Mistretta said there are numerous protections in place to safeguard the election. Only people who are on the voter checklist are allowed to vote in the election. Each of Dover's six wards has a Supervisor of the Checklist who verifies each ward's voter checklist before every election. The supervisors meet on Oct. 27 at 7 p.m. to certify the checklist for the Nov. 3 election.
Those who have registered to vote have either shown photo identification or signed an affidavit that they are eligible to vote where they say they are. Any voter who signs an affidavit also has their picture taken. "As long as you're telling the truth, you're fine," Mistretta tells those who sign affidavits.
Election fraud in New Hampshire is either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class B felony, depending on the fraud. Some of the penalties include mandatory sentences.
During the election, New Hampshire allows for same-day voter registration. The same rules apply for voter registration. Once approved by the Supervisor of the Checklist, the person can be given a ballot.
At the end of election night, the ballot reader prints a tape that tells the election moderator how many ballots should be in the machine. The ballots in the device are then counted to ensure the two numbers match. Once the ballot count is verified, the ballots are sealed in boxes with anti-tampering tape and brought to the City Clerk's Office, and they are stored in a vault for 22 months and then shredded. If an election recount is needed, the sealed ballots are brought to the Secretary of State's Office to be opened and counted.
Dover has six polling locations, which is based on Dover six wards. Polling locations will be open on Election Day, Nov. 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. To locate polling places and determine your correct voting location, see the City's interactive Ward Map.
Dover's polling places are:
Ward 1 - Horne Street Elementary School, 78 Horne Street
Ward 2 - Woodman Park Elementary School, 11 Towle Avenue
Ward 3 - Parish of the Assumption - St. Joseph's, 150 Central Avenue
Ward 4 - Elks Lodge, 282 Durham Road
Ward 5 - St John's Methodist Church, 28 Cataract Avenue
Ward 6 - Hellenic Center, 219 Long Hill Road