Enhancing Accessibility in NH Elections

Belén Dumont


The diverse panel of New Hampshire leaders at the “Community Conversation: Voting in the New Hampshire Midterms and General Election” event discussed the importance of staying informed and motivated to participate in local elections. They also shared ongoing efforts to make voting more accessible and explained how the NH elections will operate this year.  

The free virtual event was moderated by Latino News Network (LNN) Owner and Publisher Hugo Balta. The panel included AARP NH State Director Christina FitzPatrick, New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, Director of the NH Alliance for Immigrant and Refugees Eva Castillo, and Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Neil Levesque. 

Watch the recorded in-depth panel discussion HERE:   

New Hampshire Latino News and AARP New Hampshire announced their collaboration earlier this month that would prepare New Hampshire residents for the upcoming 2022 NH primary elections on September 13 and the midterm elections on November 8. 

Tuesday evening, panelists addressed ongoing local efforts to increase accessibility so all New Hampshire residents can vote informed and with ease.

“I think it’s important for voters to know that the legislature has made some changes over the decade that have made it easier for individuals to vote,” NH Secretary of State Scanlan said. “So, there are opportunities that are being created for individuals that would otherwise have a difficult time getting to the polls or even accessing the material they need to be able to vote. I see that as a big move forward as well.” 

The Secretary of State’s Office is currently working to make its website ADA compliant so residents with disabilities can access election-related materials and information with ease, according to Scanlan. 

He also shared that they now offer multilingual resources on local elections in Spanish, French, and Mandarin; these materials are online and will also be available at the polls. 

“It really makes a big difference,” said Eva Castillo, Director of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees. “This allows for a unified place to get information… I work really hard for immigrant integration in New Hampshire and it is disempowering to always have to use someone as an interpreter or an ambassador to find something that should be so simple to find. This is going to be really empowering to people.”

The Hispanic-Latino population within New Hampshire has greatly increased over the past decade, according to the U.S. Census. Although more election-related resources are available in Spanish now, Castillo explained that inclusive efforts must go beyond language. 

“If [candidates] don’t reach out to Latinos and immigrants in general they cannot expect us to feel like we’re going to be listened to [or] that it’s even worth voting,” she said. “But…New Hampshire is privileged in the fact that we have access to every single official here…you do not need to be anybody special to talk to your senators…and your congresspeople.” 

Although state primary and midterm elections typically have low voter turnouts, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics Neil Levesque expects high voter participation across the state. 

“I think we have the highest voter turnouts in America, we’re very engaged. A lot of that is … that New Hampshire is such a small state you really can participate, you really can get to know these elected officials,” Levesque said. “A lot of the time, individual issues will motivate people. There’s a series of issues out there that’s motivating people and I expect that we will have very high voter turnouts.”  

As the New Hampshire primary elections are less than two weeks away, panelists pointed out the importance of preparing for election day ahead of time. 

“The most important thing that people need to do is to make a plan to vote,” AARP NH State Director FitzPatrick said. “They need to think about it ahead of time and make sure you know where you’re going, what you need to bring with you, and how you are going to get there.” 

AARP NH offers information on their website that could help residents make these plans; residents should visit AARP.org/nhvote (English) or AARP.org/nhvota (Español). 

Another free online resource available to voters is AARP New Hampshire’s Voters Guide, which outlines important deadlines, when to apply for an absentee ballot, and what’s new in this year’s elections. 

A brief survey was released two weeks before the community conversation to gather specific questions from the public regarding New Hampshire’s election and voting processes. The collected responses were integrated into the programming to help shape our event and tailor the panel discussion dedicated to residents. 

NHLN and its sibling digital outlets under the Latino News Network have taken a collaborative approach to regularly incorporate community feedback and solutions-focused reporting across our work. Our newsroom recognizes that the communities we serve are more than just our audience but our collaborators. 

Latino News Network’s coverage of democracy and upcoming elections incorporates important practices from the Democracy SOS fellowship. NHLN is one of 20 U.S.-based newsrooms elected to participate in the Hearken and the Solutions Journalism Network (SJN) fellowship that is committed to building understanding, trust, and engagement. 

NHLN and AARP NH will continue to provide a variety of free informational resources to New Hampshire residents regarding local elections. Stay updated on future events by signing up for the NHLN Newsletter HERE and visiting AARP NH’s website HERE.

About New Hampshire Latino News NH Latino News is part of the Latino News Network (LNN). LNN oversees an independent group of local news and information, English language, digital outlets with a statewide, Hispanic-Latino community editorial focus in New Hampshire, Illinois, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

AARP New Hampshire AARP is thriving in New Hampshire with nearly 215,000 members. AARP serves as a one-stop resource for the age 50+ population in the Granite State. We provide information about the breadth of local offerings, community engagement, volunteer opportunities, advocacy, and community events. We are focused on advancing age-friendly communities, celebrating family caregivers, protecting financial security, and making your voice heard. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/nh or follow @AARPNH on social media.