New Hampshire Ballot Access Bills

Two bills have been introduced in the New Hampshire legislature, for the 2022 session, to improve ballot access. Both are by Representative Kevin Craig (R-Lancaster). He is in his second term and represents part of Coos County, the northernmost county.

HB 1149 cuts the number of signatures for independent candidates, and the nominees of unqualified parties. Statewide petitions drop from 3,000 to 1,000. U.S. House from 1,500 to 500. State Senate from 750 to 250; State House from 150 to 50.

HB 1197 changes the definition of a qualified party from a group that polled 4% for either Governor or U.S. Senator, to 1%. Thanks to Alvin See for this news.


New Hampshire Ballot Access Bills — 20 Comments

  1. States should get rid of petitions and replace it with paying a fee for ballot access only.

  2. Why is a fee necessary for ballot access? Poll taxes for voters are unconstitutional. Why a tax on candidates so voters can vote for them?

  3. It seems to me that if charging a fee for ballot access can be construed as a “poll tax”, then maybe signatures as well can be construed as sush, as well, given that labor must be expended to obtain them.

  4. Apparently, a lot of states do fees for candidates to obtain ballot access. Must be legal.

  5. Collecting signatures, regardless of the original or stated intent, has largely turned into a ballot tax imposed on independent candidates and smaller parties by larger ones. This further tilts an already tilted playing field.

  6. The theory that the legislatures and courts rest on is that gathering signatures doesn’t cost anything. That’s a nice theory, but it doesn’t correspond to reality. In reality it’s a hefty ballot access fee for outsiders, and the incumbent politicians who charge non-establishment candidates these entry fees for the privilege of being allowed to run against them know this full well when they pass these laws.

  7. Thank you for the mention.

    I would prefer that the government be completely out of the primary business; parties should fund and run their nominee process however they see fit. Within our current framework, these modest changes are the best I could hope for.

    While the NH “First In The Nation” primary for POTUS is legendary, it also harms our state by bringing in major out-of-state funding. That outside interest persists into our state-level primaries and elections as well. I would happily kill off FITN, but it’s the political third rail in New Hampshire.

  8. One voter forms, which New Hampshire already uses, in the real world impose an even heavier compliance burden, thus making the tax or fee even higher than it sounds. An additional requirement that they be mailed rather than hand delivered by signature gatherers to campaign hq would vastly increase the cost even further.

  9. Another thing to consider: in my state (Massachusetts), major party candidates ARE required to collect signatures as well. Sometimes, major party candidates will hire paid petitioners to boost their signature totals, but this also has the effect of drying up the market of available petition circulators, and making it tougher for opponents, both from major and minor parties, to secure enough qualifying signatures.

  10. Cost per sig with a circulator vs cost of stamp ???

    1 person Voter forms on internet, junk mail, etc.

  11. The major party candidate petition requirement in Massachusetts and a few other states hurts minority views in other ways too.

    Let’s say you are a green, libertarian, socialist, or whatever you are who wants to run for office. You could theoretically run as an independent, as a minor party candidate, or in a major party primary. Each of these has its pluses and minuses. Let’s say they all had equal signature requirements, although they vary quite a bit depending on the state.

    As an independent, you are not encumbered by any party’s negative brand recognition, platform planks you may disagree with, dealing with party leadership, and so on. On the other hand, unless you manage to make a lot of headway yourself – something that’s much harder to do for someone with a non mainstream view point or someone not benefiting from other power concentration factors – you can neither benefit from nor help build party brand recognition, and thus you give organized groups less incentive to support you, since it may be less clear what you do for them in return, particularly if you’re considered to have a low chance to win.

    As a minor party candidate, you may have some resources to help you, but much less than if you win a major party primary, or than you could try to tap into by trying to win one. Those drawbacks of negative brand recognition for the party, conforming enough to its ideology to win and maintain their support, and dealing with party leadership and their orneriness apply.

    So, you may decide to go for a major party nomination, albeit one you are not likely to win, or one that won’t get you or your views much attention even if you did. The downside here is that you probably won’t be on the ballot during the general election, when more people pay attention, unless it’s an office few people pay attention to, a district overwhelmingly controlled by the other major party, or most likely both.

    Let’s say you’ve looked at all those pluses and minuses and decided major party primary is the way you want to go. But guess who is going to have an easier time getting signatures, the candidate who is an incumbent, wealthy, has lots off well off friends, has a mainstream viewpoint, has been elected before, etc, or one who is not those things?

    So, having a significant signature requirement in the primary cuts off one of the ways candidates with new or non mainstream ideas can try to get more attention for their views. And, regardless of views, it hurts candidates considered less likely to win for all the reasons listed above and others.

    It’s one more way to concentrate more political power in fewer hands.

  12. Demo Rep, it varies based on the particular race, but campaigns weigh these costs all the time. Obviously, it costs less to have signature gatherers bring in the signatures to headquarters in bulk than to require them to be mailed individually, which would be a logistics nightmare. If it were otherwise, campaigns which try the latter method, and they do exist, would have a higher success rate of qualifying, and it would come to be the preferred way to do it without the government limiting campaign choices between these methods.

  13. Again —

    Cost per sig with a circulator vs cost of stamp ???

    1 person Voter forms on internet, junk mail, olde newspapers/ magazines, etc. [QR codes ???}
    Goes with having NOOO primaries.

    More or less candidates ???

  14. Supporters should gather at town clerks to be counted, based on 1/2000 of ballots counted in previous election.

    For statewide office this would be around 400, Executive Council, around 80.

    For senator 13 to 20.

    For representative 2 or 3.

  15. People besides just supporters may wish to allow someone to appear on the ballot. Finding supporters willing to take the time to gather at town clerks is extremely difficult, and thus helps more established, well funded, etc candidates. Getting people to print off and mail their own ballot access signatures may not sound that hard, but in practice it’s pretty difficult to get people to do that, especially for not so well known candidates, and that is only slightly less true when the petitions are mailed to people, included in newspapers, or any of the other schemes discussed above.

    The reason paid petition gathering exists is because it’s more cost effective, or more effective, than all these “free” methods. If it were otherwise, campaigns would see other campaigns succeed without signature gatherers, and would gravitate towards these other methods. The fact that this hasn’t happened is not because nobody has tried. Campaigns try it all the time, and usually fail. That’s why petition circulators are still the go to way for signatures to be gathered.

    Excluding the option of signature gatherers only further tilts the playing field toward the “haves” and concentrates more political power in fewer hands.

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