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Hooksett Town Moderator Don Riley, left, oversees the counting of ballots in preparation of Election Day in the Hooksett Town Council chambers. An extremely high turnout is expected statewide. Riley said the town must account for every ballot cast and not cast. (Harry Kozlowski Photo)

Hooksett, area towns prepare for Election Day

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy isn't the only thing Granite State voters have to be concerned about. A tsunami of a 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 requirements, 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 are combining to make voting a slower process than usual.

'I bet we get 80 percent' predicted Town Clerk James Goff about the expected voter turnout in Pembroke.

Hooksett Town Moderator Don Riley didn't venture a guess but agreed that a record turnout was likely. Riley sent out notices to the Banner and other news outlets urging voters to arrive at less busy periods like mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Traffic at the Cawley School polling station will be made one-way, enterring off Whitehall Road and exiting at Farmer Road.

Extra tables will be set up at polling places in both Pembroke and Hooksett, with an official greeting voters as they come. 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 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.

Goff said that he thinks anyone who is likely to vote has already registered, but a few wait until the last minute.

'We'll probably register another 150 to 200 on election day' said Goff.

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.

A recent Superior Court decision blocked new voter registration requirements; however, the requirement for voters to show ID is in effect. But one thing is certain - this is one of the most hotly contested elections in years. And not just the presidential race. Contests for U.S. 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.

While other states offer early voting, both Goff and Riley said it's not needed in New Hampshire. Riley points out that absentee ballots are available as a form of early voting for those who cannot vote on Election Day for a number of reasons.

And while some see the new voter ID requirements as an impediment to some voters, Goff disagrees, citing the various options available at the polls.

'I think New Hampshire bends over backwards to accommodate people looking to vote,' he said.



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