Now that we have made it through the Primary Election with many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can outline how those changes will work for the General Election on Tuesday, November 3.
The State continues to urge people who are concerned about COVID-19 to vote absentee. This is safer for the voters and for the volunteers at the polling places. There are several ways to do this:
Voting absentee by mail: If you are going to vote by mail, start the process now. If you voted absentee in the Primary and you checked off the box on the application requesting an absentee ballot for both the Primary and the General Election, you will automatically be mailed an absentee ballot for the General Election.
If you requested an absentee ballot before voters were allowed to request both absentee ballots with one form (July 17) or if you didn’t vote absentee in the Primary Election but would like to do so in November, you’ll need to fill out an absentee application form.
You can get an application at Andover-NH.gov/Town-Clerk-Tax-Collector/Pages/Voting-Elections or by contacting Andover’s Town Clerk, Bonnie Wesley, at TCTC@nullAndover-NH.gov or 735-5018. You can also go to the Town Offices and pick up an application. If you do not have a printer or Internet access, you can ask either Andover librarian to print it out for you, and you can come to the library to pick it up.
Then you should either mail the completed application or hand-deliver it directly to the Town Clerk. You can speed up the mailing process by putting your application directly into the “Andover” mail slot in the Andover Post Office or by handing your application in a stamped envelope directly to the mail clerk at the Andover Post Office, and they will put it directly into the Town Clerk’s mailbox: PO Box 361, Andover NH 03216.
Once you receive your absentee ballot and have filled it out, you should return it as soon as possible by mail, allowing two weeks for it to arrive, or return it directly to the Andover Post Office or Bonnie Wesley or Deputy Town Clerk Neil Turton. You may also return your absentee ballot at either of the drive-through voting events on Saturday, October 24 or Saturday, October 31 at the Town Hall from 9 AM to 1 PM. Or you can drop it off with an election official on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3, at the AE/MS gym from 8 AM to 7 PM.
Voting Absentee at the Town Offices: Once Absentee Ballots have arrived at the Town Offices, usually one month before the Election, you may go directly to the Town Offices, request the paperwork for an absentee ballot, complete your ballot then and there, and submit it directly to the Town Clerk.
Drive-Through Absentee Voting: There will be two Drive-Through voting days on the last two Saturdays in October. On Saturday, October 24, and Saturday, October 31, you may come to Town Hall from 9 AM to 1 PM and vote absentee. Please remember to bring an ID.
Curbside Voting: You may vote absentee on Election Day by letting the Greeter know that you would like to vote “curbside.” An election official will verify your ID, bring an absentee ballot application to you in your car, and once that is filled out, you will be brought a ballot. You will fill it out and return it to the ballot clerk in a sealed envelope, and it will be processed with all the other absentee ballots. Originally intended for voters with mobility concerns, this method of voting is now available to all voters due to COVID-19.
Voting in Person
Most of our poll workers are older and in a higher risk group should they contract COVID-19. They will be following recommended protocols to keep you, the voters, safe. Please do the same for them.
Scientists and medical experts tell us that there are three things that individuals can do to decrease the risk of transmitting or getting COVID-19: wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash your hands regularly. The Moderator, other election officials, and the Select Board strongly encourage all voters to be safe and respect the safety of others by wearing a mask for the General Election on Tuesday, November 3. Masks will be mandatory in the main polling area in the AE/MS gym.
When you come to vote in Andover, the poll workers will be wearing masks, and wherever possible, they’ll be behind Plexiglas shields. There will be plenty of hand-sanitizer and masks for voters to use.
In order to keep people safe, foot traffic through the gym will be one-way. Voters will enter through the main entrance. There will be signs to direct you to the voter check-in table or to the registration table. Please take the time to read the signs and follow the directions so you don’t get in the wrong line.
The floor will be marked with painter’s tape to make it easier to practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available at many locations. You should sanitize your hands before you receive your ballot and after you submit it.
When you check in, you will be given a paper mat which you should use in the voting booth or table to rest your ballot on while you mark it. You and your ballot will not need to touch the surface of the booth or table. Each voter will be given their own pencil to mark the ballot.
You then go to the check out table, where the Town Clerk will mark your name on the checklist. You can deposit your paper mat and pencil in boxes at the checkout table and hand your ballot to the moderator, who will place it in the ballot box. Then you should sanitize your hands and leave the polling area through the exit at the west side of the building.
If you cannot wear a mask or choose not to wear a mask, there will be a mask-free voting area in the back of the gym. The greeter in front of the school will direct you to walk or drive around to the back door of the gym. There is parking available along that side of the school. Voters using this area should enter and exit through the doors at the back of the gym. Mask-free voters may also use curbside voting.
If you are a first-time voter or a voter new to Andover, you will need to register to vote. This may be done with the Town Clerk up until the Supervisors of the Checklist finalize the checklist on Wednesday, October 28. If you do not make that deadline, you may register to vote on Election Day.
In order to register to vote, you will need documents that prove your age, citizenship, and domicile. Please check the Secretary of State’s website at sos.nh.gov/elections/voters/register-to-vote/registering-to-vote-in-new-hampshire/ to see what materials you can use to register. If you do not have all of these documents, you will be allowed to fill out an affidavit and allowed to vote on Election Day.
You may also follow the absentee registration procedures at sos.nh.gov/media/upfnijty/absentee-registration-requirements-and-instructions-2020-08-08-covid-ada.pdf.
Please remember to bring an ID with you. Please also remember that no electioneering is allowed inside the polling place; this means that you may not bring any campaign materials into the AE/MS gym. This includes printed materials such as campaign postcards, pamphlets, etc., and it includes wearing election pins, hats, shirts, face-masks, or anything else designed to promote or oppose a candidate or a party.