KDW for the Beacon Oct 15, 2020
As I write this, we are on the brink of what I’m sure will go down as one of the most-talked-about elections of our time.
The United States of America, despite its struggles and faults, is arguably the oldest and most successful democracy on the planet today. A crucial feature has been our long tradition of expanding free and fair elections to all our citizens, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic standing. It has not been a smooth road, however. To ensure that all of us can continue to participate in the voting that is central to our democratic republic, all citizens should take an active role in our democracy and vote!
Your vote DOES matter!
If you are a person who has never voted before, whether you have recently reached voting age, or recently become a naturalized citizen of the United States, or have simply never chosen to exercise your right, now is the time to play your consequential role in this important process. There is same-day registration at the polls; just bring your ID (proof of age, domicile and citizenship) and ask the friendly poll workers to guide you to the Supervisor of the Checklist.
New Hampshire Leads the Way
New Hampshire is justifiably proud of its important leadership in the process of choosing our leaders and policymakers, and in underscoring the power of the people in ensuring the smooth transfer of power from one election cycle to the next. New Hampshire is well known for hosting the first-in-the-nation primaries, which affords anyone who wishes to get involved an unsurpassed opportunity to meet the prospective candidates of every party, ask them questions directly, and inform them of our views on issues that are important to us. This last one is perhaps the most unique opportunity we have in our state - as the first voters candidates see on the campaign trail, we get to influence the candidates’ stump speeches and platforms in their earliest, formative stages.
There is another reason we New Hampshirites can take pride - we have about the highest voter turnout in the nation, according to electproject.org. Of all the states, only Minnesota consistently bested New Hampshire’s admirable 72.5% turnout of eligible voters in the past three presidential elections. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner takes pride in this figure, saying his goal has been to make New Hampshire the easiest state in the Union to cast your vote in.
Cast your Vote!
It is important that every American citizen casts their one ballot and participates personally in our “government of the people, by the people and for the people”. Be an informed voter, and fill in your choices for all 14 offices on the ballot. Here in Andover many volunteers have been working hard for months to enable us to do just that. The New Hampshire Attorney General reviewed the Andover team’s work for the September primary election and deemed it “an excellent operation.” Since this spring, there have been months of teleconference discussions and training between the NH Secretary of State’s office and the sworn moderators, town clerks and supervisors of the checklist of all 221 towns and 13 cities in New Hampshire.
The widest possible range of options were made available for Andover voters to cast their ballots:
⁃ You could vote in-person on November 3 while wearing a mask, using the north door of the Andover Elementary / Middle School polling place.
⁃ You could vote in-person without a mask, using the south door of the AEMS polling place.
⁃ You could vote early by requesting a ballot to be mailed to you, and then returning the ballot either by bringing it directly to the Town Clerk or through the mail. (However, it must arrive by 5pm on Nov 3 to be counted!)
⁃ You could use the drive-through voting option offered on October 24 or 31 at Andover Town Hall.
⁃ Absentee ballots can also be obtained and cast at the curbside voting station on Election Day.
Note that the official ballot and absentee ballots are identical. Every ballot is marked “Absentee Ballot and Official Ballot” and is placed in the ballot box before counting begins. Care has been taken that your right to vote by “secret ballot” has been protected.
As COVID-19 has necessitated further expansion of our right to free and fair elections, the state of New Hampshire has responded promptly and conscientiously. In every case, the customary checks and security measures are observed to ensure that each voter is on the Andover voters checklist, or that new voters have gone through the usual process involving identification and voter registration. New Hampshire’s election procedures, and particularly Andover’s all-paper secret ballot system are the result of literally centuries of experience in making democracy work. Be sure to be part of it and VOTE!
Ken Wells represents Andover, Danbury and Salisbury in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.