Absentee voting

Town Moderator Deborah Fauver helps a voter May 9 with his absentee ballot at Conway Town Hall.  (TERRY LEAVITT PHOTO)

CONWAY — Are you an independent who took a pink or blue ballot in February, then forgot to change your party affiliation back to undeclared? You'd be well-advised to do so soon, as voters have until June 2 to change party affiliation for the Sept. 8 primary election.

“The rule change is important to undeclared voters who voted in the February presidential primary, and perhaps forgot to ‘return to undeclared’ on the way out of the polls,” Conway Town Moderator Deborah Fauver said Monday.

“Voters who would like to change their political party may now do so with a form on the Town website (conwaynh.org) or go to tinyurl.com/y8jtao6w. The form is titled 'Application to Change Party Affiliation' and is a state form, applicable to any city or town,” she said.

Any voter seeking to check his or her current party registration may do so by entering their name and date of birth on the Secretary of State’s website at tinyurl.com/th5n57o.

Voters may not change their party affiliation on election day. Undeclared voters can choose a party on the day of the primary and change back to undeclared status after voting.

Once Conway voters have downloaded the form and filled it out, Fauver said they can return it to the town clerk’s office at Conway Town Hall in Center Conway, where a box has been set up outside specifically for party affiliation changes before the end of the day June 2, or bring the form to the Conway Supervisors of the Checklist on June 2 from 5:30-7:30 p.m.

“This will be the last chance to change party affiliation before the September primary,” Fauver said. “It is also possible for new voters to register to vote at this meeting.”

Voters will not have to worry about party affiliation in the Nov. 3 general election as there will be only one ballot.

In other election news, the Secretary of State’s Office has relaxed absentee voting restrictions for the September primary and November general election.

“It is impossible to predict the course of the COVID-19 public health crisis or how it might be affecting our state in September and November 2020 when the primary and general elections will be held. Nonetheless, it is important for election officials, voters, and candidates to have a clear understanding now about how public-health related concerns will be addressed,” Gardner’s office stated last Thursday.

“It is reasonable to anticipate that voters may feel apprehension about voting in person in the September 2020 Primary and November 2020 General Elections. Voters should not have to choose between their health and exercising their constitutional right to vote.

“Thus, any voter who is unable to vote in person in the Sept. 8 primary election or the Nov. 3 general election because of illness from COVID-19 or who fears that voting in person may expose himself/herself or others to COVID-19 will be deemed to come within the definition of ‘disability’ for purposes of obtaining an absentee ballot.

"Any voter may request an absentee ballot for the September 2020 Primary and November 2020 General Elections based on concerns regarding COVID-19. We anticipate providing further guidance to election officials about planning for and accommodating what could be a significant increase in absentee ballots.”

Conway had a record number of voters cast absentee ballots (921) in its May 12 town election. There were 1,457 total ballots cast.

“It was the most absentee ballot requests we’ve ever had to prepare; the most mailed back and returned; the most processed and recorded ever by this office,” Conway Town Clerk Louise Inkell said May 13. She said her office received requests for 1,045 absentee ballots.

With Gardner’s new ruling on absentee voting, Town Clerk Louise Inkell said Wednesday she “expects to see a lot of absentee ballots in the next two elections.”

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