NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner announces retirement

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New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

CONCORD, N.H. – On Monday, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced that he will be retiring, leaving the role he has served since 1976.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan will step into the role until another election for the office is held.

Gardner, currently serving his 23rd term, has described his primary role as protecting the sanctity of New Hampshire’s status as first to hold a full-fledged primary, fighting back attempts from national representatives of the Democratic and Republican Parties as well as states elsewhere in the country attempt to wrest New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Primary status away from the Granite State.

A registered Democrat, in recent years he has received criticism from the left for what was seen as legitimizing a voter fraud commission based on unsubstantiated claims by former President Donald Trump. While he felt that investigation, like any investigation, was useful in safeguarding New Hampshire’s election, he added that claims by Trump and others that “bus loads” of voters from other states were voting in New Hampshire were unfounded.

Involvement in that commission led to him being narrowly re-elected over former Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern in 2018.

He also drew ire in 2020 for criticizing a Democratic bill in Washington that he believed would endanger the ability of New Hampshire and other states to conduct elections.

Still, Gardner drew praise from across the New Hampshire political spectrum after his announcement on Monday.

“Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s decision to step down ends a remarkable era in New Hampshire politics,” said New Hampshire Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem). “He protected our elections and our first-in-the-nation primary with integrity and patriotism. We owe him so much for his extraordinary 45 years of public service. He has been a good friend and true statesman. There will never be another Bill Gardner.”

“Over the past six decades New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner has played an important and historic role with not only NH’s Elections but the nation’s. Bill Gardner’s record-making length of service has seen dramatic changes in our elections but the one constant has been the exemplary quality of the elections in New Hampshire. We must continue this tradition with the next Secretary of State,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley. “Bill Gardner’s 44-year diligence in preserving the state’s status as the First in the Nation Primary has been laudable and has served the nation well. We all look forward to hearing about New Hampshire history from Bill for many years to come.”

“I want to thank Secretary Gardner for his 44 years of service to the State of New Hampshire. As the longest serving Secretary of State in the country, Secretary Gardner has helped shape New Hampshire’s nationwide reputation for the unparalleled integrity and security of our elections. Prior to serving as Secretary of State, Secretary Gardner proudly served the residents of my very own Ward 6 in Manchester as a State Representative,” said New Hampshire Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester.) “As Secretary of State, Bill Gardner has been a steadfast champion for New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary—one of our greatest state treasures. Secretary Gardner has fiercely defended our primary over the years, ensuring that Granite Staters play a critical role in our country’s presidential elections. I am deeply grateful to Secretary Gardner for his decades of tireless commitment to the State of New Hampshire, and I look forward to honoring this legacy by ensuring that New Hampshire continues its tradition of robust civic engagement, accessible elections, and ensuring that Granite State voters have confidence in the integrity of our elections.”

“Granite Staters owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Secretary of State Bill Gardner,” said New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu. “For decades, Bill Gardner has fiercely protected New Hampshire’s First in the Nation presidential primary and overseen our elections that are truly a point of pride for our state – always open, fair, accessible, and accurate. We will miss Bill and his vast institutional knowledge of New Hampshire people, politics, and government. Here’s to a well-deserved retirement and best wishes from all the Sununus.”



About this Author


Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.