Keene, NH - On Friday Sept 6, the Ballot Access Fairness Coalition sent an email to every member of the NH Legislature with a publicly listed email address. The email included a white paper on ballot access reform (attached) and a proposal for a ballot access reform bill, the Ballot Access Fairness Act. The proposed bill would treat all candidates equally for ballot access purposes.
According to Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, “The original bill for government-printed ballots was passed in NH in 1891. State session laws 1891, chap. 49, p. 348. It required 500 signatures for statewide petitioning candidates and defined 'party' to be a group that polled 3% for Governor. The petition deadline was 30 days before the general election.”
Now, candidates are required to file a declaration of candidacy in June, and the petition deadline is 5 weeks before the election. The signature requirement has also been increased to 3,000 signatures for a statewide independent or minor party candidate, with a requirement of 1,500 signatures from each US House district. A “party” is now defined as any group that polls 4% for Governor or US Senate.
A new parties may opt for the “party petition” which requires the party to submit petitions signed by a number of voters equal to 3% of the total votes cast in the previous election. This procedure cost the Libertarian Party nearly $20,000 last year, and the party did not retain ballot access because the candidate for Governor did not receive 4% of the vote, even though both Congressional candidates did.
Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution states, “All elections are to be free... Every inhabitant of the state, having the proper qualifications, has equal right to be elected into office.”
In the letter to the NH Legislators, Darryl W. Perry, founder of the Ballot Access Fairness Coalition asked, “how does every inhabitant have 'equal right to be elected' when there are not equal procedures for obtaining a place on the ballot?”
The Ballot Access Fairness Act would establish equal procedures for obtaining a place on the ballot for all candidates, regardless of political affiliation.
Ballot Access Fairness Act
652:11 Party. – I. "Party'' shall mean any political organization which at the preceding state general election received at least 4 1 percent of the total number of votes cast for any one of the following: the office of governor or the offices of United States senators.
II. Political organization shall mean any group which intends to run candidates for public office and has filed a copy of the party bylaws and a slate of officers with the Secretary of State.
655:42 Number. –I. It shall require the names of 3,000 registered voters, 1,500 from each United States congressional district in the state either the names of 200 registered voters or a fee of $100, to nominate by nomination papers a candidate for president, United States senator, or governor.
II. It shall require either the names of 100 voters registered in the district or a fee of $50 the names of 1,500 voters registered in the district to nominate by nomination papers a candidate for United States representative; either the names of 50 registered voters or a fee of $25 750 to nominate a candidate for councilor; or either the names of 20 registered voters or a fee of $20 to nominate a candidate for state senator; either the names of 150 registered voters or a fee of $10 to nominate a candidate for county officer; and 150 to nominate a candidate for state representative or county officer and either the names of 150 registered voters or a fee of $2 to nominate a candidate for state representative.
III. It shall require the names of registered voters equaling 3 percent of the total votes cast at the previous state general election to nominate by nomination papers a political organization. Any political organization as defined by RSA 652:11 shall nominate candidates in accordance with Section I and II, as prescribed above.
Click here to read ----> Ballot Access White Paper
The Ballot Access Fairness Coalition seeks to reform the ballot access laws in the State of New Hampshire so that all candidates are treated equally for ballot access purposes.