Bills propose holding earlier NH state primary elections

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NH’s state primary election was Sept. 8th in 2020. Here’s the view of Durham’s voting polls that day. Photo/Annie Ropeik, NHPR

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A New Hampshire House committee is considering proposals to move the date of state primary elections.  Backers of the bills say holding earlier party primaries will boost political participation; critics say it could do the opposite.

By law, New Hampshire holds state primary elections on the second Tuesday in September.

No state other than Rhode Island holds its primaries that late. Two bills in the legislature would change that – one would move primary day to June, the other to August.

Republican backers say holding an earlier primary will increase political engagement, and give challengers more time to take on incumbent candidates.

But critics of the changing the calendar, including the Secretary of State’s office, say it could cause confusion and reduce voter turnout.

Others testified that moving up primary day and lengthening the general election, could also make it harder for third-party candidates, because they would have less time to gather the petition signatures needed to make the ballot.

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