Ballot Access Laws

Determining the Proper Standards for New Hampshire
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 0910-02
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The rules and regulations that govern the access that third parties have to the ballot in New Hampshire are some of the nation’s strictest. This report specifically outlines these relevant state laws, summarizes the constitutional dimensions of ballot access laws, and assesses New Hampshire’s laws in comparison to those of other states. It also considers the potential changes proposed in HB 48, legislation introduced by Rep. David Pierce and Rep. Joel Winters. We analyze how these changes would affect the number of registered political parties in New Hampshire and how the Secretary of State might have to alter the current ballot format in order to fit in new parties. We also consider potential concerns with the new legislation including the voter confusion argument and the technological feasibility of ballot reformatting. Finally, we use case studies to discuss what has happened in other states after lowering ballot access standards and what types of successful modifications to the ballot other states have made to deal with the potential for more candidates on the ballot.