Registering to vote: It’s the first step

A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law. – Alexander Hamilton

Nashua’s municipal elections, scheduled for Nov. 7, are fast approaching. The last day to register to vote prior to Election Day is Oct. 28.

To avoid lines at the polls, citizens needing to register may want to do so beforehand by going to the City Clerk’s office at City Hall. If you are a new voter to Nashua, if you moved from another municipality within the state or moved within Nashua, if you changed your name or wish to change your party affiliation, you will need to register or re-register before the deadline.

Normal office hours for the City Clerk are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; however, to accommodate the public better, evening and Saturday hours are available in October. Additional hours are as follows:

Tuesday evening, Oct. 17 and 24, 5-7 p.m.

Saturday morning, Oct. 21 and 28, 9 a.m. to noon.

If you are unable to come to City Hall, you can register to vote on Election Day at the polls. Registering on Election Day and then voting will require that you wait in two lines: One to register and one to vote.

To be eligible to register and vote in New Hampshire, a person must be 18 years of age or older on Election Day; a United States citizen; and domiciled in the town or ward where the person seeks to vote.

To register, you will need to provide documents that prove your identity, age and citizenship. A driver’s license or non-driver ID from any state satisfies proof of identity and age while a birth certificate, U.S. Passport/Passcard, naturalization document or Real ID compliant driver’s license or state issued non-driver ID satisfies proof of citizenship.

If you do not have these, you can prove your identity, age, and/or citizenship, by signing a Qualified Voter Affidavit, under oath, in front of an election official. You also will need to provide documentation to prove that you are domiciled in the place where you intend to vote. With the recent passage of SB3, this process has become more complicated. If you are planning to register at the polls, you should go to the Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.nh.gov, to review the page, Registering to Vote in New Hampshire. This has a complete list of documents that are acceptable for proof of domicile.

If a voter wants to change their party affiliation, they must do so in person at the clerk’s office. There may be periods of times when state law does not permit a change of party, so it is best to contact the City Clerk’s office if you have any questions. If a voter’s name has changed, due to marriage, divorce or a legal name change, this change must be done in person also. You will need to bring the proof of the name change, i.e. certified marriage certificate or certified court order.

For those wishing to vote by absentee ballot, please note that in New Hampshire, only residents who are temporarily absent from the city (such as college students or overseas citizens) and residents who are physically disabled and unable to come to the Office of the City Clerk or the polling location to register, may do so by mail. The form to request an absentee ballot is available on the city clerk’s page of the nashuanh.gov website or you can contact the City Clerk at (603-589-3010) for more information.

If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, want to check what party you are affiliated with or where you should go to vote, please visit the state of New Hampshire Voter Information Look-up Tool, on the Secretary of State’s website.

The League of Women Voters, Nashua Public Library and The Telegraph have partnered to provide information on our upcoming election so voters can be more informed. To that end, four more candidate forums will be hosted in the library. On Oct. 19, the Aldermen-at-Large Forum will take place. Prior to the moderated forum, candidates for Board of Public Works will also be present to give a brief introduction of their candidacy. Other forums are: Aldermanic Wards 7-8-9, Oct. 25; Board of Education, Oct. 26; and Aldermanic Wards 1-2-3 Nov. 1. All forums take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Chandler Wing of the library.

With two ballot questions for voters to consider and several highly contested offices such as Board of Education, Aldermen-at-Large and Board of Public Works, Nashua voters will have many choices to make. The resources are available to assist us in making informed decisions. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”