In 2014 the New Hampshire General Court passed a new restriction on minor party access to the general election ballot by prohibiting a political organization from collecting petitions before the election year. The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit challenging this new law. A similar law in Rhode Island was struck down in 2009 because the sole claim by the Rhode Island government was “reducing the number of ‘false positives’.” In New Hampshire, that was the initial reason given for passage of the new law, however William Gardner changed the reasoning the rationale to prevent ballot clutter and to ensure that political parties have a current modicum of support.
On August 27, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Barbadoro upheld a 2014 New Hampshire lawclaiming “[the new law] imposes only a reasonable burden on ballot access that is outweighed by the State’s interest in avoiding ballot clutter.”
This is absurd! Richard Winger of Ballot Access News reports, “The New Hampshire party petition has existed since 1996 and only twice has any group ever managed to use it. It is one of the most difficult petition requirements in the nation, 3% of the last gubernatorial vote. Both times it was used, the party that used it, the Libertarian Party, took approximately a full year to get the job done. Now the circulation period has been cut in half.”
Here are some of the lowlights of NH ballot access over the past decade:
In November 2014, New Hampshire was one of only five states with a Democratic-Republican ballot monopoly for all the statewide offices (the others were California, Alabama, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania).
In 2006, New Hampshire was one of only four states with a Democratic-Republican monopoly for all the statewide offices.
And in 2004, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Michael Badnarik was on the ballot in every state except New Hampshire and Oklahoma. The only non-Democratic-Republican statewide candidate on the ballot in 2004 was Ralph Nader. New Hampshire is also one of only ten states in which the Green Party has not been able to place its presidential nominee on the ballot in any of the last three presidential elections.
The ruling also seems to completely ignore the fact that Republican and Democratic Party Presidential candidates are filing candidacy forms in the year before the election; however the Libertarian Party and other parties seeking ballot access are barred from circulating nominating petitions during that same time period.
One thing is clear, New Hampshire voters are being harmed when alternative candidates and the ideas they represent are kept off the ballot!
Darryl W. Perry
Founder, Ballot Access Fairness Coalition
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.