Election Day is still two weeks away, but 136,137 people have voted absentee in New Hampshire, shattering the record for a presidential election set just four years ago. On top of that, more than 60,000 additional ballots were requested that have yet to be cast.
“It can’t be surprising that we are seeing more absentee ballots being cast with the threat of COVID, particularly among those in high-risk groups like seniors,” Americans for Prosperity-N.H. State Director Greg Moore tells NHJournal.
As of Tuesday morning, 200, 834 Granite Staters had requested absentee ballots. A new law passed earlier this year allows any New Hampshire voter to request an absentee ballot if they have a “concern for the novel coronavirus.”
The impact of COVID-19 on this election is clearly seen in the numbers:
Earlier this year in the “First in the Nation” primary, 26,856 absentee ballots were cast. In 2018, 45,887 people voted by absentee. And in the 2016 contest between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it was 75,305.
In other words, nearly twice as many absentee ballots have been cast as of Tuesday than absentee ballots cast in the entire 2016 November election.
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office doesn’t track the partisan status of those requesting or returning early ballots. However, a new Granite State Poll released Tuesday found that 85 percent of respondents saying they’ve already voted are Democrats. Just 13 percent are Republicans.
That’s not necessarily something Republicans should worry about, though, according to Greg Moore. “In talking with groups that are tracking and chasing absentee ballots, it appears a significant majority of those who are requesting absentee ballots are those who regularly vote on election day,” he says.
“It just changes the time when these voters are voting,” says Moore.
Chris Ager, New Hampshire’s Republican National Committeeman, tells NHJournal that the increase in absentee voting “has definitely stretched out the process by several weeks.”
“We had to start our conversations with voters earlier,” Ager says.
In July, President Trump tweeted that mail-in ballots were ripe with fraud, calling them a “formula for rigging the election.” According to the president, absentee ballots are fine because you go through a “precise process.”
Ager agreed with the president, saying that “a voter in New Hampshire must take a proactive measure to receive their absentee ballot,” and tells NHJournal he “has 100% confidence in New Hampshire’s absentee system.”
At least 31 million Americans had voted early on Tuesday, and New Hampshire has one of the highest rates of early voting in the country.