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Election Law @ Moritz Home Page

Election Law @ Moritz

Election Law @ Moritz

2008 Key Questions for Key States

New Hampshire

The complete research by Election Law @ Moritz for New Hampshire can be found below.

Institutional Arrangements

State Chief Election Authorities

Democratic appointee

Chief election authority: Secretary of State. § 5:6 et seq.

Method of selection: Appointed by joint vote of House and Senate. § 14:2-b.

Current officer: William M. Gardner (D). Democrats Bump Up Nev., S.C. on Calender, AP Presidential, August 20, 2006. (Last updated 1/1/08)

State High Court Composition

D leaning/appointed

Method of selection: Gubernatorial nomination and appointment by legislature. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 490:1; Const. Part 2, § 46.

Justices: John T. Broderick, Jr. (D), Linda S. Dalianis (I), James E. Duggan (D), Richard E. Galway (appointed by R), Gary E. Hicks (D) (Last updated 12/22/07)


  • Mystery Veils a Son's Attack on N.H. Judge, Boston Globe, April 8, 2002. 
  • Shaheen Nominates First Woman for N.H. Supreme Court, Boston Globe, April 12, 2000. 
  • Nominee Seen as Intellectual and Apolitical, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 24, 1990. 
  • Lynch to Nominate Hicks, Union Leader, Dec. 20, 2005.

Local Administrator Training

No info

No law was found requiring New Hampshire election officials to attend training, or stating whether such training is even offered.

However, the secretary of state must prepare a manual on the New Hampshire election laws and procedures for conducting elections. NH Rev Stat 652.22. The manual must be prepared with the advice and approval of the attorney general and be completed by June 1st preceding each state general election.

Who tallies precinct results?

Local election authority - partisanship unconstrained

The municipal clerk tallies precinct results. RSA 659:74.  Municipal clerks are appointed by the councilmen and -women of the municipality. RSA 48:2.

Who counts provisional ballots?


New Hampshire does not have provisional voting. It has election day registration.

Who performs state canvass?

Secretary of State - elected

The Secretary of State performs the state canvass. RSA 659:81.

Local Administrator

Municipal office - appointed

At the local level, New Hampshire elections are run by municipal clerks. RSA 652:14-a. Municipal clerks are appointed by the councilmen and -women of the municipality. RSA 48:2.

Local Administrators' Party Affiliation

Unknown affiliation/appointed

City Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
Manchester 108,871 Carol Johnson (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS [1]
Nashua 87,285 Paul R. Bergeron (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Concord 41,823 Janice Bonenfant (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Rochester 29,654 Joshua Gray (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Dover 28,216 Judy Gaouette (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Total 1,314,895 (22% of pop.)

Voter Registration

Registration Deadline


Voters may register at the polls on Election Day. NH Rev Stat 654:7-a. To register at the polls, voters must prove citizenship, age and residence with specified materials or "any reasonable documentation". NH Rev Stat 654:12. The deadline for pre-election registration is 10 days prior to Election Day. NH Rev Stat 654:27.

Notice of Registration Error


Officials will send notice within 7 days whenever an application is rejected. NH Rev Stat 654:13.

Opportunity to Correct after Registration Deadline

Unclear under state law

The Brennan Center reported in 2006 that applicants may correct flawed applications at any time within thirty days of receiving notice of the flaw, even if this is past the normal registration deadline. However, no written law or procedure was found requiring this.

HAVA matching standards

N/A - currently this state does not match

New Hampshire does not currently attempt at the point of registration to verify the information contained on voter registration applications against information contained in social security or state motor vehicles databases. However, social security and driver's license numbers are listed on voter registration forms and verification of this information does occur as part of an ongoing list maintenance process. A representative of the Secretary of State's office stated that he did not think that the state used an exact match standard for verification of that information. However, from the voter's perspective, this whole issue is moot because the registration will never be canceled regardless of whether a match is obtained. If the match fails, a letter goes out to the voter to try to clear up the inconsistency, but the registration will never be removed and the voter will always be able to cast a regular ballot at the polls.

Source: Phone conversation, Secretary of State's office, August 7, 2008.

Will the inability to verify social security number or driver's license number prevent registration?

N/A - this state has no matching program

New Hampshire currently does not attempt to verify the identity of voters at the point of registration, although it does attempt to verify the identity of voters as part of an ongoing list maintenance program. Regardless, the voter's registration will never be blocked, suspended, or canceled, and he or she will always be able to cast a regular ballot.




Pre-election challenges

Challege decided by court

Any New Hampshire citizen may challenge the eligibility of any voter by filing a complaint with the local trial court. RSA 654:42. The complaint must state the facts upon which the challenge is based. The court will notify election officials and the challenged voters and hold a hearing. After the hearing, the court will order the voter's registration cancelled if "justice requires."

Election day challenges

Challenged voter may cast a regular ballot after signing affidavit

Any voter at any election may challenge any other voter offering to vote at such election, and the moderator shall not receive the vote of the person so challenged until he shall sign and give to the moderator an affidavit affirming his or her identity. RSA 659:27. Town moderators will be in violation of the law if they accept ballots from challenged voters who refuse to make an affidavit. RSA 659:31.

Provisional Ballots

Provisional ballot - name not in poll book


New Hampshire does not have provisional balloting.

Provisional ballot - voter cast ballot in wrong precinct


New Hampshire does not have provisional balloting.

Provisional Ballot Casting Rate - 2006

N/A - this state does not use provisional ballots

New Hampshire does not have provisional ballots.

Provisional Ballot Counting Rate - 2006

N/A - this state does not have provisional ballots

Early and Absentee Voting

Convenience Voting

Neither early voting nor "no excuse" absentee voting

New Hampshire does not have early voting.

Voters may cast an absentee ballot only with an excuse.  RSA 657:1.  Completed ballots must be received by 5:00 p.m. on election day to count.  RSA 657:22.

Voting Technology

Voting Technology

Predominately or 100% OS

City Population Administrator/Affiliation Selection Voting Technology
Manchester 108,871 Carol Johnson (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS [1]
Nashua 87,285 Paul R. Bergeron (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Concord 41,823 Janice Bonenfant (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Rochester 29,654 Joshua Gray (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Dover 28,216 Judy Gaouette (?) Appointed Premier Accuvote OS
Total 1,314,895 (22% of pop.)

Does state law require a VVPAT?


New Hampshire law requires VVPAT. RSA 656:41

Polling Place Operations

Who are poll workers?

Appointed by local administrator/evenly bipartisan

Each town and ward political committee of the two major political parties appoints 2 poll workers to each precinct. RSA 658:2. The political committees may also appoint bipartisan pairs of additional inspectors. If the committees do not appoint, the municipal legislature can appoint poll workers in bipartisan pairs.

Poll worker training

Training not required by law

No law or administrative regulation was found concerning the training of poll workers. However, the Secretary of State's election procedure manual states that election officials are "responsible for making certain that each of the election officers understands what his or her specific responsibilities will be" (see p. 31).

Polling hours extension

Voters may extend

Towns and cities must open the polls by 11 a.m. at the latest and close by 7 p.m. at the earliest. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:4. Towns may put the question of polling hours on the ballot for voters to decide as long as hours are at least 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:4-a. Town councils may vote on changing polling hours as well but the change cannot take effect until 60 days after such vote. New Hampshire is extraordinary in allowing in all state elections that "the voters present at the polling place may vote to keep the polls open until a later hour." N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:6.

Voters present in the polls at the closing hour may vote to extend polling hours. This likely means that, at a minimum, voters may choose to keep the polls open until those present have voted. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:6.

Polling place closing times - local times

8:00 PM local time

Some New Hampshire polls close at 7:00 PM while others close at 8:00 PM. 

Polling place closing times - by Eastern time zone

8:00 PM Eastern time

Ballot Security

Voter ID requirements

Only HAVA ID required

New Hampshire generally requires only the minimum ID required by HAVA. This requirement applies only to voters who are voting in a county federal election for the first time, who registered to vote by mail, who did not produce ID at the point of registration, and whose identities were not verified in the statewide voter registration database by comparing the information on the voter registration form against information contained in social security or state motor vehicles databases (but note that New Hampshire does not perform this type of verification)(see here, p. 36). The standard HAVA ID is sufficient:  Current and valid photo ID or current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.  See 42 USCA 15483.

Voters who register on election day must present proof of age, citizenship, and domicile via “any reasonable documentation.” NHRS 654:12. If they do not have such documentation, they may bypass the requirement by completing an affidavit that affirms their age, citizenship, and domicile. RSA 654:12.

Consequences of failure to present ID

Voter may cast an ordinary ballot after signing affidavit

Technically speaking, voters who cannot comply with New Hampshire's generous voter ID requirements cannot cast a ballot, even a provisional one, because New Hampshire does not have provisional ballots. However, because New Hampshire permits voters to vouch for the identity of another voter and also allows voters to establish their own identity through affidavit, it is difficult to see how one would be unable to comply with the ID requirement in at least one way. RSA 654:12.  First-time mail-in voters who cannot present the required HAVA ID should be able to circumvent the requirement by using the EDR procedure.

Follow-up required of voter


No follow-up is required of New Hampshire voters because they are able to register on election day, even without ID, by affirming their identity in an affidavit. RSA 654:12.

Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters or Emergencies

No election-specific emergency provision

General emergency powers can be found in RSA 4:45.  The law does not address elections.

Ballot Shortages

Local officials may restock

New Hampshire election law provides that local election officials may prepare unofficial ballots for use in place of official ballots if official ballots have not been delivered to polling places by election morning. RSA 658:35. This statute does not explicitly apply to situations where paper ballots run out during election day. However, the Secretary of State's Election Procedures Manual instructs poll workers, in the event of a ballot shortage, to first use the unused absentee ballots and then use photocopied ballots (see p. 59). In addition, the law has been liberally interpreted to allow substitute ballots in a form other than that prescribed by law to permit voting on constitutional amendments. Opinion of the Justices, 114 N.H. 711, 327 A.2d 713 (1974).

When a few towns ran out of ballots in the 2008 presidential primary, voters were given absentee paper ballots or photocopied ballots. Voter turnout in New Hampshire sets new primary record, A.P., Jan. 9, 2008.

What if touchscreens break down?


New Hampshire does not use touchscreen machines. Accessible voting is done by telephone, not touchscreens.

Post-Election Processes

State certification deadline

Within 1 week of election

The governor issues certificates of election to the electors of the president “when the time for any recount or appeal to the ballot law commission or superior court has expired.” RSA 659:84. The deadline for filing a recount is the Friday after the election. RSA 652:4, 660:1, 660:7.

Note that, unlike in most states, the deadlines for filing recounts and election contests in New Hampshire do not depend on the date that official results are certified.

Election contest deadline


Any candidate in New Hampshire may bring an election contest of sorts by styling it as an appeal of a recount. RSA 665:8. The filing deadline for so doing is 3 days after the Secretary of State's declaration of the results of the recount. It is not clear whether this means the mere oral declaration of the results, or the official certification of the results. There are no cases interpreting the language of the statute, so it is difficult to say. The statutes do not authorize traditional election contests for presidential elections, only these recount appeals.

New Hampshire allows traditional election contests for the office of state senator or representative and requires that a petition be presented to the clerk of the senate or house before the second Wednesday of the first session. RSA 660:18, 660:19. Any candidate may appeal a recount with the ballot law commission by filing an appeal with the Secretary of State within 3 days after the declaration of the recount result. RSA 660:1, 665:8. The candidate may appeal the decision of the ballot law commission to the supreme court within 5 days after the decision of the commission by filing with the Secretary of State. RSA 665:16.

Local count deadline

Within 7 days of the election

The town or ward clerk prepares and certifies the election return. RSA 659:74. The town or ward clerk forwards a copy of the election return to the secretary of state by the Monday following a state election. RSA 659.75

Audit type


New Hampshire election law does not provide for audits.

Audit scope

No audits authorized

No authorization for audits of voting machine accuracy was found.

Candidate-requested recounts

Upon request

Any candidate for federal, state, or county office may obtain a recount by requesting one no later than Friday following the election. RSA 652:4, 660:1, 660:7.  Certification of the official results is actually prohibited from occurring until the opportunity for recount has expired.  RSA 659:84.

Note that federal candidates who want an election contest-type remedy to perceived wrongs need to file a recount first.  RSA 665:8.  This is because traditional election contests are not available to federal candidates in New Hampshire, only appeals of recounts.

Administrative Recounts

Not explicitly authorized

No black-letter law was found authorizing administrative recounts.

Automatic Recounts


No authorization for automatic recounts was found.

Defintion of a vote

Poll workers determine intent by majority vote

New Hampshire law stipulates that an irregularly marked ballot will be counted on a majority vote of the poll workers present. RSA 659:64. This definition does not provide guidance for the poll worker on how to vote, but it does provide a definitive process to determine whether to count a vote.

Election Contest Scenario #1: Unverified Ballots


Unverified ballots will cause New Hampshire courts to nullify the election and hold a re-vote. Appeal of Soucy, 139 N.H. 110, 117 (N.H., 1994). However, this is only true when the number of invalidated ballots exceeds the margin of victory. Id. When the number is less than the margin of victory, the court will not disturb the result. Id.; Judkins v. Hill, 50 N.H. 140, 141 (N.H., 1870). 

Election Contest Scenario #2: Provisional Ballots with Technical Mistakes

Provisional ballots not used

New Hampshire does not use provisional ballots. It uses election day registration instead. § 654:7-a. 

What Court Would Hear a Presidential Contest?


The Ballot Law Commission (“BLC”) has exclusive jurisdiction over primary and general election contests. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 665:6-7. However, BLC decisions may be appealed to the state Supreme Court. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 665:16. The BLC is made up of 5 members. Two are appointed by the speaker of the state house of representative (one from each of the two major political parties); two appointed by the president of the state senate (one from each major party); one appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the state council. A full council of alternates is appointed in the same manner. N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 665:1. Judges are appointed by the Governor and a state council of 5 elected executive officials. N.H. Const. Art. 46.

Who Performs Presidential recounts?


The Secretary of State and appointed assistants will perform the recount. 660:5. There is no explicit provision against “stacking” the recount staff with partisan individuals. However, candidates or their representatives may observe the recount. Id. The Secretary of State is elected. 5:1.

The New Hampshire administrative code provides no further details.