Speed Reads

Ballot Access

Libertarians sue New Hampshire over alleged suppression of third parties

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party to contest New Hampshire's HB 1542, a new state law that restricts the time candidates have to get their names on the ballot. The law stipulates that third-party candidates who want to get their name on the ballot must wait until January 1 of the election year to start collecting the necessary signatures. Because so many signatures are required — about 21,000, which is equivalent to 3 percent of the vote total from the previous election — third-party officials see the timeline as too squeezed.

Gilles Bissonnette, a staff attorney for the Civil Liberties Union, said his organization aims to have the law declared a violation of the state constitution, arguing that it disadvantages smaller parties that do not have the resources to collect enough signatures during the election year alone.

A similar law in Rhode Island was successfully challenged in 2009, with U.S. District Judge William Smith ruling, "The state has come forward with no legitimate regulatory interest whatsoever that would necessitate placing this enormous speed bump on the path to party recognition."