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Category: New Hampshire (page 1 of 2)

Snow Days: Postponing Elections for Weather Emergencies

By: Samuel Holliday

On March 14, 2017, municipalities in the state of New Hampshire were set to have their annual town elections. However, a powerful nor’easter was approaching New England, bringing with it near blizzard conditions, and many were concerned that the inclement weather would hinder the democratic process. Almost eighty towns decided to postpone their elections despite Governor Chris Sununu (R)’s warning that they would be exposed to potential lawsuits. The issue that arose and, as of November 1, 2017, remains in question is a conflict between state laws governing town elections. Section 669:1 of the state code requires that towns hold their elections on the second Tuesday in March, but Section 40:4 allows town moderators to reschedule the “voting day of a meeting” during weather emergencies.

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Judge Blocks Controversial New Hampshire Voter Registration Law 

By: Samuel Holliday 

On Tuesday Sep. 12, 2017, a New Hampshire Superior Court judge placed a temporary restraining order on the enforcement of penalties under the controversial voter registration law known as Senate Bill 3 pending further judicial review. The law, signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) on July 10, 2017, provided stricter penalties ‒ a fine up to $5,000 and a jail sentence of up to a year ‒ for failure to provide documentation that supports a voter’s domicile in the state if they register within 30 days of an election. The decision was handed down on the day of the first election in the state which would have been affected by the new law, with instructions that the decision be relayed to localities holding elections. 

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Trying to Stop Drive-By-Voting in New Hampshire

By: C. Rose Moore

Round two of the “drive-by voting” battle in New Hampshire ended on September 16th, 2015 when the New Hampshire Senate failed to override Governor Maggie Hassan’s veto of Senate Bill 179.  That proposal would have required potential voters to be domiciled in the state for at least thirty days prior to an election.  This was the second initiative purportedly aimed at combatting this type of fraud, which can be illustrated by the actions of Vice-President Joe Biden’s niece.  While “she didn’t break the letter of the law… many people think she violated the spirit of it” by voting in the 2012 elections in New Hampshire after only working on the campaign there for a short time.

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New Hampshire’s Appeal for “Ballot Selfie” Ban Filed with the First Circuit

By: C. Rose Moore

The State of New Hampshire filed an appeal on September 9th with U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit seeking to overturn the New Hampshire District Court’s decision in Rideout v. Gardner, Opinion No. 2015-DNH-154-P.  There, the court struck down RSA § 659:35, I, which prohibited voters from “taking a digital image or photograph of his or her marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media or by any other means.”  The plaintiffs in that case, namely a state representative, Leon Rideout, a disgruntled dog-lover, Andrew Langlois, and a patent-attorney, Brandon Ross, who posted his photo after the investigations started with the tagline “Come at me, bro,” were being prosecuted under the law.

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Lawsuit Challenges New Hampshire Ban on “Ballot Selfies”

By Sarah Graffam

In a recent lawsuit, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union challenged a law that prohibits the posting of photos of marked ballots on social media. The NHCLU states, “there is no more potent way to communicate one’s support for a candidate than to voluntarily display a photograph of one’s marked ballot depicting one’s vote for that candidate.” NH RSA 659:35(I) bans a person from displaying a photograph of a market ballot, including on the internet through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. A willful violation of this statute may be punishable by a fine up to $1,000. Continue reading

One Sentence May Fundamentally Alter Third Party Ballot Access in New Hampshire

By Sarah Graffam

A lawsuit pending before the New Hampshire Federal District Court could have serious impact on third party access to the ballot in future elections. House Bill 1542, which became law on July 22, 2014, added one sentence to RSA 655:40: “Nomination papers shall be signed and dated in the year of the election.” In a suit filed the same day, the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, on behalf of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire, argued HB 1542 imposes onerous restrictions on third party access to the ballot which limits voter choice and stacks the deck against candidates who do not belong to a major party. Continue reading

Voter identification laws in New Hampshire: continuing the national debate


In September 2011, New Hampshire state senators failed to override the gubernatorial veto of Senate Bill No. 129, which would have imposed identification requirements on New Hampshire voters. More specifically, the Bill would have required voters to present a valid voter identification (as specified in the Bill) on Election Day before being able to cast their ballots. For those voters without valid IDs on Election Day, the Bill granted them the ability to vote using a provisional ballot with the requirement that the voter show his or her official ID two-and-a-half days later. According to one source, the proposed law would have been “one of the most regressive voter photo ID laws in the nation,” and Governor John Lynch (D) claimed that the Bill would “create a real risk that voters would be denied their right to vote.” To support his veto, Gov. Lynch pointed to the positive state of elections in New Hampshire, specifically high voter turnout, the absence of fraud issues, and strong election laws, and he relied upon those reasons – among others – to justify not needing a strict voter identification law in New Hampshire.   Continue reading

Students’ Voting Rights – Keeping Madison’s Dream Alive?

New Hampshire’s House Speaker, William O’Brien (R-Hillsborough 4), made a name for himself in cyberspace and among voting rights advocates earlier this year when he openly voiced that students in New Hampshire should not be able to vote in-state unless they had established permanent residency in their college towns. O’Brien also vocally supported a recent bill to limit students’ franchise by prohibiting election-day voter registration, a device many students rely upon in New Hampshire to be able to participate in New Hampshire elections. While attempting to justify the proposed bills, H.B. 176 and H.B. 223  respectively, by citing the importance of eliminating voter fraud, his statements were significantly undermined when he also alleged (in a video posted on YouTube) that students in New Hampshire are foolish and merely “vote their feelings.” O’Brien further secured his poor reputation (and the Bills’ fates) by declaring that college students on Election Day cancel out the votes of other, more invested voters, relying on a “dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce.”

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No Prize for Finishing Second? New Hampshire Law Change Helps Confirm “First-in-the-Nation” Primary

As the commentary of political pundits drifts beyond the subject of the 2010 midterm elections, and prospective candidates for the U.S. presidential election of 2012 begin strategizing for their impending campaigns, the legislators of New Hampshire have taken the opportunity to assert one clear priority: New Hampshire comes first!

In early 2010, New Hampshire lawmakers drafted an amendment to state election statutes inserting the following phrase into the chapter of the state code addressing the scheduling of presidential primary elections: “The purpose of this section is to protect the tradition of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary”. Formally known as HB 341, the amendment was signed into law earlier this summer by New Hampshire Governor John Lynch, putting national Democratic and Republican party organizers on notice as they draft their schedules for the forthcoming 2012 primary season. Continue reading

“MOVE” Act Created Urgency for NH Election Officials

As New Hampshire voters were casting ballots in their state’s September 14 primary, local and state election officers were anxiously preparing to tabulate and certify the results with greater urgency than usual. The pressure to confirm town and city results with all possible speed was a reaction to certain provisions of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act) signed into law by President Obama in 2009. In particular, the Act requires states to be able to provide U.S. soldiers and citizens abroad with their respective absentee ballots “not later than 45 days” before an election. With this year’s general election set for November 2, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner was left with a mere four day interval to affirm the primary results and furnish general election ballots in accord with the 45-day requirement. Continue reading

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