Bedford prepares for big turnout at polls next week
A tsunami of turnout is expected at the polls. New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, as well as local officials, predict a record turnout for Election Day Tuesday, Nov 6.
Compounding matters are the state’s voter ID requirement, challenged voter affidavits for those who do not have the required identification with them, and voters who want to register the day of the election. All these combined will make voting a slower process than usual, officials said.
“I would say about 80 percent,” predicted Town Clerk Lori Radke about the expected voter turnout among Bedford’s 14,000 or so registered voters.
Radke urged voters to be sure to have an ID handy to avoid a long wait. “If they bring their ID, they get in and out. If they don’t bring an ID they will be stuck in a long line filling out paperwork,” said Radke.
But anyone arriving before the polls close at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote, even if actual voting goes past 7 p.m.
Extra tables will be set up at Bedford High School, with an official greeting voters as they arrive.
Those who need to register will be directed to a table. Those without the required photo identification will go to another table to fill out a challenged-voter affidavit. With that, assuming the voter is already registered, they will receive a ballot and proceed to a voting booth.
All votes cast by those who fill out the challenged-voter affidavit will be counted on Election Day, but they will have to provide proof of identity to the town later.
If a voter fails to respond to the town’s request, the name is turned over to the Attorney General’s office for investigation.
Voter registration at town halls ended last Saturday, Oct. 27, but anyone not registered and wanting to vote will be able to register at the polls.
Voters who miss an election could be purged from the voting rolls, so if you did not vote in the 2010 election, you likely need to register to vote this year. Be sure to bring identification and go to the registration table before checking in.
Even though the state’s voter ID law is now in effect, not having identification will not prevent someone from voting.
Filling out a challenged-voter affidavit will allow a person without an ID to obtain a ballot. Liz Tentarelli of the New Hampshire League of Women Voters said even this close to the election, voters are getting confusing information. “We’ve had reports that some voters calling their town halls are being told they can’t vote without ID. That is simply not the case,” said Tentarelli.
But one thing is certain, this is one of the most hotly contested election in years. And not just the presidential race. Contests for Congress and governor are neck and neck.
Several other state and local offices will be voted on as well as two questions concerning amending the state constitution.
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