Mar 06 2013

New Hampshire House Passes Bill to Study Election Laws

Source: Ballot Access News

On March 6, the New Hampshire House passed HB 521, which establishes a committee to study New Hampshire election laws. The “Duties” of the committee will be to “study all current New Hampshire election laws and procedures and review all options to increase participation and access to the ballot including but not limited to solutions to limit lines and wait times in casting ballots, public education related to election law, election procedures, early voting, and absentee voting.” The bill also says the committee “shall consult with and solicit testimony from the public in the course of its duties.”

The Committee will be composed of five state legislators, and will do its work after the legislature adjourns this year, so any recommendations will be brought forward in 2014. When this bill passed in the House Election Law Committee, some legislators said the intent of the bill does not mean that the committee should study ballot access, but the plain language of the bill seems to permit it.

Assuming the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, the existence of the committee should provide an opportunity for members of the public to testify about New Hampshire’s terrible ballot access laws. The state is one of only three in which no party, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, has been ballot-qualified at any time from November 1996 to the present day. Also, New Hampshire is the only eastern state in which the Green Party has not been on the statewide ballot since 2000, and was one of only two states in which the Libertarian Party presidential nominee did not appear on the 2004 ballot. In 2006, New Hampshire was one of only five states with a Democratic-Republican monopoly for all statewide offices (the others were Alabama, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania).

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