Voters new to Derry will save themselves and the Supervisors of the Checklist some time if they bring the right documents to the November election.
The Supervisors – Renee Routhier, chair; Judy Strakalaitis; and newest member Margaret “Peg” Mullins – gathered recently to discuss what’s needed for new registrants to access the privilege of voting.
New voters and voters new to Derry may register at the Town Clerk’s office, at the polls, or in special half-hour registration sessions held by the Supervisors on specified dates. They need to bring a photo ID and proof of domicile. “That’s anything that has your address on it, your car registration, your utility bill,” Routhier said.
Strakalaitis pointed out that driver’s licenses now carry a person’s address, or proof of domicile.
The applicants must also prove that they are United States citizens and 18 or older, Strakalaitis added. The driver’s license can provide the age.
Routhier said the proof of citizenship may be documented with a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers.
There are affidavits to fill out if the applicant doesn’t have one of the forms, but those take longer, Routhier said. “With the affidavits you are swearing by law that you are who you are and you live where you live,’ she said.
Does anyone ever arrive at the registration table with nothing? “Very, very rarely,” she said.
Strakalaitis observed that New Hampshire differs from other states because people can register at the polls, the Town Clerk’s office or when they hold open sessions. The checklist is closed for 10 days before an election, she said, so that it can be updated. This year it will close Oct. 25.
The Supervisors are in their Town Hall office several days a week, Strakalaitis added, saying, “For a Presidential election, we’re here every day.” They don’t mind drop-in registrations, she said, noting, “If the Town Clerk is busy, we’ll take them.”
On a recent Monday they were still processing registrations from the Sept. 9 primary election. “We’re checking people who may have been out of town, people who may have died,” Routhier said. Because there are only three Supervisors and three polling places, they don’t clean up the checklist during the election, but follow up away from the polls.
Strakalaitis observed that many people don’t notify the Supervisors when they move out of town. “They think it’s automatic in their new town when they register their car,” she said, with Routhier adding that many people think the computers are linked when they’re not.
Do people tend to register in the office or at the polls? It depends, Routhier said. “It’s 50 percent one way, 50 percent the other. In the last Presidential election we had 1,000 register here and 1,200 at the polls,” she recalled.
It’s also important to know what district you’re in, Routhier added. In this year’s Primary, 60 to 70 voters showed up at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School. “They were District 1 and they should have gone to Pinkerton (Academy),” she said.
There are fine lines that divide the districts, Strakalaitis observed. Residents of The Fairways apartment complex used to show up at West Running Brook Middle School when it was a voting site, but even though they lived across the street, they were in a different district.
If they had one piece of advice to give to a citizen, what would it be? “Vote,” they said simultaneously, with Strakalaitis adding, “If you don’t know what documents to bring, call us.”
The next open registration is Oct. 25 from 11 to 11:30 a.m., after which the checklist will be closed until the election. For more information, call the office at 845-5490.
Town Clerk and Absentee Ballots
Town Clerk Denise Neale has a two-word answer to people who ask about how many absentee ballots she passes out: “It depends.”
For the Town Elections every March, not many. The election is often low in participation, and the “snowbirds,” people who head south for the winter, are usually back by then. For the September primary, the snowbirds usually aren’t gone yet. But by the November general election, anyone who’s going south has gone.
Absentee ballots may be obtained by filling out a request form, available at the Town Clerk’s window in the Municipal Center, or online at nh.gov/elections. The online request form may be printed out or scanned and e-mailed to Neale.
When Neale receives the ballots at her office she mails them to those who have requested them. Active-duty military have the option of having the ballot e-mailed to them, though they have to print it out and snail-mail it back, Neale noted.
Absentee ballots filled out and delivered in person must be received at the Municipal Center Nov. 3 by 5 p.m. Absentee ballots mailed must be received at the Municipal Center by 5 p.m. the day of the election, though that’s a moot point, Neale observed, because “our mail is delivered at 10 a.m.”
For more information on absentee ballots, call Neale at 432-6105.
Where To Vote
Voters in Districts 1 and 3 vote in the Hackler Gym at Pinkerton Academy; District 4, the gym at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School; and District 5, Calvary Bible Church.
More information, including a street list of districts, may be found on the Town Web site at www.derry.nh.us on the Town Clerk’s page, Supervisors of the Checklist link.