After discussions with the Secretary of State’s office, and a conversation with the Governor’s office, a formal written request for an Executive Order was submitted to the Governor’s Legal Counsel, John Formella on April 30, 2020. The formal request reads:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Libertarian Party of N.H. regarding the current crisis in the state. Due to the State of Emergency and the Governor’s Stay at Home Order, we suspended our petitioning efforts in compliance with this order to assist with the efforts to halt community transmission of this illness.
As you know, the first part of the N.H. Constitution (The N.H. Bill of Rights), Article 11 states that “Every inhabitant of the state, having the proper qualifications, has equal right to be elected into office.” Those qualifications being listed in N.H. Statute 655:17 as:
- Not having been convicted of treason, bribery or any willful violation of the election laws of this state or of the United States (Unless the Supreme Court has restored rights to said individual)
- Not be an incarcerated felon at the time of the election
- Be a registered Voter in N.H.
- Be of legal age for specific office
- Have lived in the district for the appropriate number of years
Due to the COVID-19 health risk, collecting signatures for petitions would endanger the health of petitioners and the community at large. Other states have already ruled on this issue. For example, in Connecticut the Libertarian Party has received a favorable ruling in federal court that political organizations that were qualified to place candidates on the ballot in 2016 or 2018 should be extended ballot qualification in 2020 and other political organizations only be required to obtain 10% of the statutorily required petitions. Illinois also provided this same relief with the judge citing “The combined effect of the restrictions on public gatherings imposed by Illinois’ stay-at-home order and the usual in-person signature requirements in the Illinois Election Code is a nearly insurmountable hurdle for new party and independent candidates attempting to have their names placed on the general election ballot.” NY, MI, MA have also eased their requirements.
In the spirit of these court rulings and in keeping with Governor Sununu’s request that social distancing be maintained, the Libertarian Party of N.H. formally requests an Executive Order for the following terms:
- A declaration that any political organization that has placed a candidate on the general election ballot in one of the last 2 state election cycles be permitted to place their candidates on the ballot without nominating papers, provided the organization and candidate otherwise comply with RSA 655:43, II-IV.
- Any political organization or candidate otherwise qualified per RSA 655:1-9 that has not had a candidate on the ballot in one of the last 2 state election cycles be required to produce only 10% of the statutorily required nominating papers
This non-partisan action would assist access to the electoral process by all inhabitants of N.H. and extend constitutional rights regardless of party affiliation or non-affiliation.
While the Libertarian Party of N.H. is prepared to move forward with other options, we truly feel that legal action is not in the best interest of N.H. during times of crisis and working together is beneficial to all involved. This is especially true when there are individuals attacking our governor for appearing to violate the NH Constitution. What better way to show that he has the individuals of N.H. in his heart than extending the rights of all?
We appreciate your time and immediate attention in this matter as time is running out for petitioners every moment that passes.
I (Jilletta Jarvis) would appreciate a call back at your earliest convenience (603) 275-5834, but I shall call on Monday to ensure that you received this request and speak to you on it in case you require any clarification or additional information.
We look forward to working with you on this.