The Bulletin Board

Sununu said he is likely to veto earlier state primary date

By: - June 21, 2021 11:46 am
A sign saying vote here in a red arrow that points toward a line of people in a building

Election officials take an oath that they will perform their duties properly when they are sworn into office. (Drew Angerer | Getty Images)

A proposal to move New Hampshire’s state primary to the first week of August has been approved by House and the Senate negotiators, but Gov. Chris Sununu is not on board and said he would likely veto the bill.

Proponents of the earlier date say the later primary gives incumbents who are established and have more name recognition an advantage over new candidates, something Sununu said he hadn’t considered.

“I haven’t really thought about whether it’s an advantage or disadvantage,” he said during a press conference last week.

When asked when he thought the primary should be held, he said the current date “sounds good.” He also criticized the proposal lawmakers hammered out last week for not being a “substantial change.”

“I just don’t see the benefit,” he said. “Moving it four weeks doesn’t achieve some of the goals that they were trying to achieve.”

“I think it creates confusion in our system,” he added. “We have a great system, you know, unless we really need to change something I’m always hesitant to do that.”

Members of both parties have looked to House Bill 98 to solve at least one glaring issue with New Hampshire’s late primary date: The September primary pushes the state up against the deadline for receiving ballots from overseas, such as those cast by members of the military.

The state has nearly run afoul of federal requirements for receiving those ballots, something lawmakers have said this proposal would address.

Both the House and Senate will vote on the latest version of House Bill 98 on Thursday.

New Hampshire has the third latest state primary in the nation, followed only by Massachusetts and Louisiana.  

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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.