City Clerk Details Steps for Absentee Voting

August 20, 2020

The Absentee Ballot process is now open for the fall 2020 Election Season. This week, NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner is sending a letter to all NH households advising residents of the requirements to register to vote and cast an absentee ballot. That information is also available here,

There are four simple steps to vote by absentee ballot in the September 8 NH Primary and/or the November 3 General Election:

  1. Make sure you are registered to vote.
  2. Determine your eligibility to vote absentee.
  3. Complete and return an application for Absentee Ballot(s) (one application form may be used for both the Primary and General Election).
  4. Complete and return the Absentee Ballot (now available for the Sep 8 primary).

Registering to Vote
In New Hampshire, an applicant must provide present proof of US citizenship, age (18+) and residence. Portsmouth residents may register at the City Clerk’s Office. The last day to register to vote prior to the September 8 Primary Election is Tuesday, September 1, 2020 during regular hours (8 am to 4:30 pm) in the City Clerk's Office or during the Board of Registrars Session at City Hall on September 1, from 4:30 to 5 pm. Residents with proper identification are allowed to register to vote at the polls (Portsmouth residents vote at their Ward poll locations, depending on where they live) on Election Day.

Valid Reasons to Obtain an Absentee Ballot
Portsmouth City Clerk Kelli Barnaby advises Portsmouth voters that, due to the pandemic, there are five valid reasons registered voters can vote absentee this year. They include:

1)      Absent from the City on the day of the election

2)      Observance of a religious commitment on Election Day

3)      Due to disability

4)      Concerns about COVID-19

5)      Employment Obligation (including the care of children and infirm adults, with or without compensation)

Applying for Absentee Ballot

The City Clerk’s Office now has applications for absentee ballots and the actual absentee ballot for the September 8 NH Primary Election available at City Hall.

Voters are able to apply for absentee ballots for both the NH Primary (September 8) and the General Election (November 3) with just one application (voters must check both boxes). To receive an application for an absentee ballot, voters can come to the City Clerk’s office, call the office to receive one by mail, or download the application, here.

The absentee ballot application cannot be completed online; it must be downloaded and printed, then signed. Once complete, voters should return the application by mail (City Clerk, City Hall, 1 Junkins Ave., Portsmouth NH 03801), fax (610-4158), e-mail to, in person at the City Clerk's Office or in the gray box outside of City Hall. Those who applied by any means other than in person can check the status of their applications here.

Complete and Return the Absentee Ballot

Absentee ballots for the September 8 NH Primary are now available. Voters who have completed the absentee ballot application can pick up the ballot in person at the City Clerk’s office at City Hall. Absentee ballots will be mailed to voters who did not receive one when they applied in person.

Please note: Completed absentee ballots should be returned to the City Clerk’s office in person (not the gray box at City Hall), or mailed back.

The City Clerk and Secretary of State are urging those who choose to vote absentee to return their completed ballots as soon as possible to avoid any possible delay, and especially to allow ample time for delivery if voting by mail.

Absentee Ballots for the General Election

The actual date that absentee ballots for the November 3 General Election will be available has not yet been set by the Secretary of State, but it is expected to be sometime in late September or early October. Registered voters may apply to receive a General Election absentee ballot and receive the absentee ballot in person starting on that day. Anyone who has already completed an absentee ballot application will receive a General Election Absentee Ballot by mail. Once completed, ballots may be mailed back or delivered in person to the City Clerk’s Office.

In a report to the City Council on the September Primary Election, City Clerk Kelli Barnaby noted, “We are in the process of evaluating how absentee ballots will be processed in a timely manner on Election Day. We are communicating regularly with the Secretary of State’s Office as these standards are developed.”

For more information about the Fall 2020 election season and other voting details, visit the City Clerk’s webpage.






"Vote" buttons.