CONCORD, NH — A "voting rights" lawsuit requesting action against several New Hampshire laws and officials to expand absentee ballot access, claims that postal costs were disenfranchisement, and to extend the time period to count absentee ballots after the Election Day, has been rejected in superior court.
The American Federation of Teachers filed the lawsuit in Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester in mid-August requesting declaratory and injunctive relief from New Hampshire voter registration and absentee ballot request processes. Some of the processes include documentation requirements for new voter registration forms, witnesses, and other provisions required due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The union said the laws could potentially disenfranchise new voters who do not want to or cannot register to vote in person or others who want to file absentee ballots by mail and might not meet the deadline. It also said requiring postage on the absentee ballot was an impediment to voting and challenged state law that does not allow ballot harvesting — which many believe is an invitation for voter fraud.
The lawsuit was filed against Bill Gardner, the Secretary of State, and Gordon MacDonald, the attorney general. Both officials created several provisions to loosen regulations and laws for the acceptance of absentee ballots in the state without requiring extensive, new legislation or rescinding constitutional amendments — which can only be done by convention or a general election vote. Historically, absentee ballots were only issued to voters who knew they were not going to be in the state to vote in-person or had a "physical disability."
About two weeks after the case was filed, the Republican National Committee and Donald Trump for President reelection campaign also filed a motion to intervene as defendants. The court later allowed Republicans to intervene in the case.
However, the superior court Friday upheld state laws and rejected all of the plaintiff's claims, according to Orville Fitch II, the elections legal counsel for the Secretary of State's Office.
"The court did order the Secretary of State to develop a process to accept requests for absentee voter registration forms," Fitch said. "In fact, the Secretary of State's Office already accepts requests for absentee voter registration forms and provides those forms to applicants when requested. We will seek to clarify the court's order."
In August, the state mailed an advisory to all voters explaining the process.
Voters seeking an absentee voter registration packet, including the absentee voter registration form itself, can email that request to email@example.com, Fitch said.
Gardner, in past interviews, said New Hampshire residents — and the rest of the nation, should know the results of the 2020 election, barring recounts, hours after the polls close in the state, at both 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., depending on the community.
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