Supervisors of the Checklist Gear Up for Election Season
The supervisors of the checklist perform an important function within the towns and cities they serve. With careful consideration of each voter registration form that is submitted to them, allowing only those who are qualified to vote onto the checklist, the supervisors help to assure the integrity of the election process in our municipalities.
Q: Which municipal officials decide whether a person will be added to the checklist and allowed to vote in a town or city?
A: The supervisors of the checklist determine who is qualified to vote. RSA 654:11. Determinations made by the supervisors of the checklist may be appealed by filing a complaint in superior court. RSA 654:42.
Q: What are the qualifications of a voter?
A: A person who is at least 18 years of age, a citizen of the United States and domiciled in the town or city in which he or she seeks to vote. RSA 654:1 through 12. An application must be made either to the supervisors of the checklist (supervisors) directly, either at a session to correct the checklist or on the day of the election, or with the town or city clerk. RSA 654:11, RSA 654:7-a, RSA 654:8. If the supervisors determine that the applicant meets the qualifications of a voter, they will add that person’s name to the checklist. The person will then be qualified to vote in all state, federal, and town or city elections.
Q: What information can be required by the supervisors in determining the qualifications of an applicant?
A: In order to be placed on the checklist, an applicant must first fill out a voter registration form. RSA 654:7. The form, as prepared by the secretary of state, requires an applicant to give his or her full name, address, place of birth, place last registered to vote, any other names under which he or she may have previously registered to vote, driver’s license number or, if the applicant does not have a valid driver’s license, the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number. The applicant will be required to sign his or her name, acknowledging his or her understanding of the qualifications of becoming a voter, and that he or she meets those qualifications and that the information submitted is true. If registering on the day of voting, the applicant states that he or she will not vote at any other polling place for that election.
The supervisors shall require the applicant to present proof of citizenship, age and domicile in the following ways:
- a) Citizenship: a birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers if the applicant is a naturalized citizen, or a citizenship affidavit.
- b) Age: any reasonable documentation indicating that the applicant is 18 years of age or older.
- c) Domicile: any reasonable documentation indicating that the applicant has a domicile and that he or she intends to maintain a domicile in the town, city or ward in which the person is registering to vote. Applicants lacking reasonable documentation may be asked to fill out a domicile affidavit. Presumptive evidence that the individual meets the domicile requirement is the presentation by the applicant of a New Hampshire driver’s license, a New Hampshire vehicle registration, or an armed services identification or other photo identification issued by the United States government provided that the document is currently valid and shows the address the applicant claims as a domicile.
Q: Is all of this information available to the public?
A: Only the voter’s name, street address, town or city, and party affiliation, if any, are available to the public. All other information contained on the voter registration form shall be treated as confidential information and shall be exempt from the public disclosure provisions of RSA 91-A. Information that is not available to the public includes: date and place of birth; place last registered to vote; driver’s license number or last four digits of the social security number; name that the voter may have previously registered under; and information regarding naturalization. Election officials and law enforcement officials may disclose otherwise confidential information under certain limited circumstances. RSA 654:31-a.
Q: Can a voter demand that his or her address be kept off the checklist?
A: Only a voter who presents a valid protection order pursuant to RSA 173-B:4 can request that his or her name and address be kept off the checklist. The name and address of such a voter shall be maintained on a separate list of voters, which shall be nonpublic and not subject to disclosure under RSA 91-A. When a nonpublic list is established, the public checklist shall be marked at the end with a notation of the number of voters whose names are maintained on the nonpublic list. RSA 654:25. Absent a protective order, the voter’s full name, address and mailing address if different, and party affiliation, if any, must appear on the checklist and be available to the public.
Q: How is domicile determined?
A: Domicile is the one place, more than any other place, where the individual has established a physical presence and manifests an intention to maintain a single continuous presence for domestic, social and civil purposes relevant to participating in democratic self-government. A person can have only one domicile for voting purposes. RSA 654:1.
Presumptive evidence that the individual meets the domicile requirement, includes a New Hampshire driver’s license, a New Hampshire vehicle registration or an armed services identification, or other photo identification issued by the United States government provided that the document is currently valid and shows the address the applicant claims as a domicile. This presumptive evidence does not limit the supervisors from accepting other forms of proof of domicile that they find reasonable.
Q: What happens if the supervisors determine that the applicant is not qualified to vote?
A: If a majority of the supervisors decide not to add the name of the applicant to the checklist, they shall send notification in writing to the applicant within seven days stating the reason for denial. They shall write “REJECTED" and the date of the rejection across the registration form. They shall retain the original in a separate file for proof that such an application was made. RSA 654:13.
Q: When must the supervisors of the checklist meet to accept applications and to correct the checklist?
A: For all town, city, village district or school district elections, the supervisors must hold a session on the Saturday 10 days prior to the election. In official ballot referendum (SB 2) towns, the supervisors must hold a session on the Saturday, six to 13 days prior to the first (deliberative) session. The supervisors will also meet on the day immediately prior to the first day of the filing period for candidates. RSA 669:5, RSA 44:5, RSA 670:3. Supervisors may hold additional sessions to allow citizens to register in addition to the required sessions, as long as they post notice of the meeting. RSA 654:27, RSA 654:32. With the exception of election day registrations, no additions or corrections may be made to the checklist between the Saturday session and election day. RSA 654:28.
Notice of the day, hour and place for each session shall be given upon the checklists first posted and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the city or town at least seven days prior to each such session. RSA 654:26, RSA 654:27, RSA 654:33.
Q: When must the checklist be posted?
A: The supervisors must make and post copies of the checklist at the office of the town or city clerk or at the town hall no later than the fourth Tuesday before the election. Each posted checklist shall state the date, hour and place of the upcoming sessions for checklist additions. RSA 654:26, RSA 654:27, RSA 654:33. The additions and corrections resulting from such session shall be made to the previously posted checklist on or before midnight on the succeeding Friday either by additions or corrections to the checklist or by posting a new corrected checklist. Notice of such additions or corrections to the checklist shall also be given to the town or city clerk. RSA 654:28.
Q: Can applications be made to the town or city clerk?
A: The town or city clerk has voter registration forms and is required to accept applications from persons wishing to be added to the checklist if: (1) the application meets the guidelines that may be issued to the clerk for the taking of evidence of qualifications, and (2) the application is submitted before the last meeting of the supervisors before an election, and (3) the application is submitted during regular business hours of the town clerk. The supervisors of the checklist should provide the town or city clerk with the guidelines they use in taking evidence of qualifications so that the supervisors can be satisfied that adequate evidence is presented to the town or city clerk with the application. RSA 654:8. The ultimate decision on whether to add the applicant’s name to the checklist remains with the supervisors. RSA 654:11.
Q. Can a person who just moved into town register to vote on election day and vote in that election?
A: Yes. A person may register and vote on election day if he or she fills out the appropriate voter registration form and the supervisors find that he or she meets the qualifications necessary to vote in that town or city. RSA 654-7-a. Note that the law allows registration on “election day," which refers to state primary and state general elections; to all town, city, school district and village district elections; and to all official ballot referendum meetings where a person may vote by absentee ballot.
Q: But what about the first, or the deliberative, session in an official ballot referendum (SB 2) town or district?
A: A person who is not already on the checklist before the first session of the town meeting in an official ballot referendum (SB 2) town, will not be able to register to vote at the first session and hence will not be able to participate in that deliberative session. It is the second session of the town meeting in an SB 2 town, deemed as the annual election date for purposes of the election statutes, when a person may register to vote on the day of the election. RSA 40:13, RSA 654-7-a.
Q: Can a person register to vote on the day of traditional town meeting in towns with that form of government?
A: A person may register to vote while the election of officers and other official ballot voting is open, but he or she may not register to vote once the polls are closed for voting. Like the deliberative session in an SB 2 town, the business portion of the traditional town meeting day is considered a meeting and not an election for purposes
Q: Can a person register to vote even if he or she is absent from town?
A: Yes. A person who qualified to vote in a town or city but who is temporarily absent from the town or city, or who by reason of physical disability is unable to attend a meeting of the supervisors, may cause his name to be added to the checklist by applying to the town or city clerk or the secretary of state for a voter registration form and an appropriate absentee voter registration form. RSA 654:16 and 17.
Q: What are the penalties for an applicant who gives false information or who fraudulently votes?
A: Knowingly and purposefully providing false information when registering to vote is a class A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of imprisonment not to exceed one year and a fine not to exceed $2,000. Fraudulently registering to vote or voting is subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000. RSA 659:34.