Bins containing supplies for Laconia's six polling locations are stacked in the City Clerk's Office, all ready for the general election which is just over two weeks away. A notice on top of the containers states poll workers will begin processing absentee ballots starting at 8 a.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. As of Oct. 15, 1,907 Laconia voters had requested absentee ballots. (Michael Mortensen/The Laconia Daily Sun photo)

LACONIA — With less than three weeks to go until the general election, more people have voted by absentee in New Hampshire than did so in the entire presidential race four years ago.

The Secretary of State’s office said 78,561 ballots have been returned to town and city clerk offices out of 179,054 requested. When all was said and done in 2016, a total of 75,000 people voted by absentee ballot.

In New Hampshire, residents can register to vote up until election day.

Registered voters must request an absentee ballot and that ballot must be returned, either in person or it must arrive by mail, by 5 p.m. on election day.

There have been concerns that some people might not leave enough time for their ballots to arrive by mail. Absentee ballots can be requested in person at local town and city clerk offices and can be returned by hand.

The reason for requesting an absentee ballot this election has been expanded to include concern over coronavirus.

Conventional political wisdom is that the Democratic party benefits from higher voter turnout, in part because the party attracts young voters who tend not to be as reliable in casting ballots as older people.

On Thursday, three Democratic candidates — Executive Councilor Michael Cryans and state Senate hopefuls Bill Bolton and Phil Spagnuolo — gathered in Laconia to urge people to return their absentee ballots as soon as possible.

"My advice is when you get (your absentee ballot) then fill it out and return it right off,” Cryans said. “Don't put it off. We all do it, like putting off doing our homework."

Laconia City Clerk Cheryl Hebert said 1,907 city voters had requested absentee ballots and that 1,204 ballots had been returned. The number of absentee ballot requests in the city is approaching double the number requested in 2016 — 1,100.

On the Web:

New Hampshire Secretary of State voting information:

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