Absentee Ballots: Where do they go?


Lydia von Schwanenfluegel, Staff Writer

Your feet hurt, you’ve been standing in line for hours, and you have a paper cut and a scrape from a staple on your finger. You’re running on tiny muffins, a couple of bites of fruit and a can of diet Pepsi.

This is the work of the Goffstown absentee ballot processor every election day. Ballots must be opened, checked off on two separate lists, and submitted to the ballot counting machine. Each time a ballot needs to be checked off, poll workers must go through the same lines as voters to check their absentee voter off the list of all voters in Goffstown. Poll workers effectively represent the person whose registration papers they carry, and whose ballot they submit for counting.

“Registering absentee voter” you say to the attendant at the end of the line. They read back the address and your eyes scan the messy handwriting to confirm the voter’s identity. A red pen strikes out their name and you head back to the ballot machine to cast their ballot.

“Where to start, man. I don’t even know” said Haydn Huard, a volunteer election official when asked to describe the process. “It was hectic. I feel like the process could be touched up a lot.”

Election officials were stationed at one of 3 tables with approximately ⅓ of all the absentee votes. In this recent midterm election, absentee votes totaled over 500 out of nearly 7,300 total votes cast in Goffstown on November 6th.

Before election day, all three high school students who volunteered to help run absentee ballot processing were warned to bring comfortable shoes, as the job required standing for the entire duration of ballot processing.

“Processing absentee ballots was a fun and surprisingly active activity.” said Griffin Hansen, one of the poll workers.

The three Goffstown students weren’t the only ones helping with the task, however. Many members of the community came out to help, and created an atmosphere of camaraderie within the group of election officials.

“I was very impressed by the amount of people who took the extra step” to participate more fully in the voting process, said Hansen.

After the votes are submitted to the ballot counter, the ballots and the official count are boxed up, reconciled with the tallies of voters from registration, and driven with police supervision to Concord, where the votes for the state are compiled, according to Cathy Ball, the town clerk.

Said Hansen, “It was great to work towards helping many let their voices be heard.”