Your vote in the 2016 presidential election may have been thrown out if you voted via an absentee ballot in New Hampshire. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked a federal judge to declare New Hampshire’s Signature-Matching Ballot Law unconstitutional. The law requires that an absentee ballot signature match the signature written on the envelope. The ACLU claimed that the law prevented hundreds of valid absentee ballots from being counted.

Peter Biello of New Hampshire Public Radio asked the legal director of the ACLU New Hampshire, Filles Bissonnette, a few questions about the organizations recent claims.

Bissonnette is quoted by describing the law as a “…state law that allows election officials that have no handwriting analysis expertise to reject an absentee ballot without informing the voter if they think there is a signature mismatch in the voter’s paperwork. But under the law, government officials never inform these voters when their ballot are about to be thrown out.”

On top of this, the ACLU claims that this law discriminates heavily against people with disabilities or old age that utilize the absentee ballot.

Referencing documents, they’ve found that 33 out of 167 (20 percent) affected by the law were disabled. That’s just in the 2016 election, as the ACLU claims around 800 voters have had their absentee ballots thrown out in just the last 3 elections. The 2016 election absentee ballots that were thrown out include a 95-year-old blind woman named Mary Saucedo and an 89-year-old Korean War Veteran.

Additionally, according to Peter Biello of NHPR, 10 voters from nursing homes, veterans homes and rehabilitation centers throughout the Granite State didn’t have their absentee ballots counted. The midterm election is coming up this November and the results will show just how happy the American people are with the Republican Party. Having strict regulations on voting will make it difficult for everyone to exercise their constitutional right.

A hearing will take place later this summer in hopes to change the law prior to the 2018 midterm elections. With many students attending college far from home, the absentee ballot presents a necessary option for people to exercise their right to vote.

With GOP legislators in New Hampshire trying to make college student voting more difficult, it’s no surprise that the ACLU is putting more attention on the unjust voting regulations in the state.

Considering there is not similar restrictions on in-person voting, it’s difficult to defend the law that has cost such a large number of people their vote. And while their single individual vote, or even the collection of 167 in the 2016 election, may not have made a large difference, it is the principal of the situation. About 800 people in the last three elections have had their vote thrown in the garbage due to an arbitrary rule.

There are many ways legislators have made it more difficult to vote; election day is not a national holiday, you cannot reschedule elections or votings due to weather in New Hampshire, many towns do not allow absentee ballot requests due to weather, GOP legislators push for ID laws be put into place as well as stricter regulations on college students and the absentee system, and lastly the electoral college still stands in the way of the people’s choice.

It’s almost as if someone doesn’t want you to vote. I wonder why.

Taylor Beaven can be contacted at

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