New Hampshire primary made accessible for voters with disabilities

A sign points to a wheelchair accessible polling station during early voting ahead of the US midterm elections in Los Angeles, California, on November 1, 2022. Photo Courtesy of Robyn Beck/ Getty Images.

By Garrett Adamtsev

Boston University News Service

Around one million New Hampshire residents gain access to the polls today as the Democratic and Republican presidential nominee voting commences in over 300 polling locations. However, as straightforward as this seems, driving to the booths and checking off a few boxes isn’t so simple for everyone. 

For the nearly 1 out of 8 New Hampshire residents who identify with a disability, permittance of mail-in ballots and accessibility laws offer a side road to the process, ensuring that their voices are heard.

Those who are unable or medically choose not to visit the polls in person today had the option to request an accessible absentee ballot. After a simple and direct application process, ballots were sent in the mail along with further steps for submission. 

For voters with disabilities who will be lining up at the booths, the New Hampshire Bill of Rights dictates that all polling places must be made accessible. Amended in 1984, it requires that all polling places be equipped with a system that assists voters in privately marking a ballot. The system, called “one4all”, is available for use by any voter. 

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s website also states that voters who are unable to enter a polling location upon arrival can be given an absentee ballot and application to fill out on the spot. Individuals with disabilities who can travel to and enter a polling location, but are physically unable to fill out a ballot, may be assisted by either an inspector of election or a person of the voter’s choosing.

Former President Donald Trump, who will be present at today’s primary, has been outspoken in the past about his dislike of mail-in ballots. Following the 2020 election, he claimed that this form of voting is what tipped the iceberg in current President Joe Biden’s favor. 

Mail-in ballots were also the subject of an Ohio robocall scam during the 2020 presidential election cycle, in which two right-wing conspiracy theorists sent calls to minority and Democrat voters that warned against voting by mail.

Four years later, fraudulent robocalls have come back to plague New Hampshire Democrats.

Residents of the state report receiving calls that utilize a deepfake of Biden’s voice, urging them not to vote in the primary. 

Supporters of Biden have been pushing the opposite, urging Democrats to “write in Biden” on the ballot, as his name will not appear due to disagreement over the compliance of the primary.

Consequently, there is a strong urge by supporters to do so as the current president will not be making an appearance at the conference.

As presidential discourse continues to climb, the weight that mail-in ballots will play in this primary, and in November in New Hampshire, is soon to be seen.

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