The Bulletin Board

Bill changing the date of the state primary vetoed by Sununu

By: - July 30, 2021 4:31 pm
Gov. Chris Sununu

Sununu said the bill “creates more problems than it solves.” (Courtesy)

Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a proposal to hold the state primary earlier in the year.

House Bill 98 would have moved the state primary from the second Tuesday in September to the first Tuesday in August, a change proponents said would level the playing field between incumbents and newcomers. The bill, whose prime sponsor was Republican Rep. Joe Sweeney, was also seen by members of both parties as an effort to solve the issue of New Hampshire’s near noncompliance with federal mandates on counting absentee ballots from overseas.

In his veto statement issued Friday, Sununu said New Hampshire has never actually missed the federal deadline, and is one of “few states” that has never been sued for it as a result. He said the bill “creates more problems than it solves,” including giving the Secretary of State’s Office nine fewer days between the end of the filing period and the primary day elections to prepare ballots – a change that could “add burdens onto their process.”

More broadly, Sununu opposed moving the primary election and campaign season into the summer months, “a time when Granite Staters are enjoying their vacations and are far less likely to be involved in the electoral process.”

Hearings on the bill included testimony from Democratic Sen. Donna Soucy and Republican Sen. Regina Birdsell, who said that according to Vermont’s secretary of state, candidates are the greatest driver of participation in elections, not when the election is held.

New Hampshire currently has the third latest primary date in the country.

In order to override the veto, the bill would now have to receive at least a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and the Senate. The House passed the bill after committee of conference negotiations by a narrow margin, 192-183, while the Senate adopted the measure in a voice vote. 

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.