On January 25, the New Hampshire Senate passed SB 232, which moves the non-presidential primary two weeks earlier, from September 11 to August 28. It also automatically moves the petition deadlines for independent candidates, and newly-qualifying parties, from late August to early August. If the bill passes this year, it takes effect 60 days after passage.
The bill would also automatically move the deadline for independent candidates, including presidential candidates, to file a declaration of candidacy, from the Friday after the first Wednesday in June, to the Friday after the third Wednesday in May. Already New Hampshire’s unique requirement that independent presidential candidates must file a declaration of candidacy in June (before the petition itself is due) was constitutionally suspect. This bill would make the problem worse for unqualified parties that don’t choose their presidential nominee until a month later than May.
However, it is believed that if the bill passes the House, it will be vetoed. Neither the Governor nor the Secretary of State feel the primary should be moved from September to August.
The New Hampshire legislature is also considering HB 1595, which makes the state’s primaries somewhat more closed to independent voters. If an independent voter chooses to vote in a party primary, he or she would still be able to do that, but would be deemed to be a member of that party for at least three months after the primary, and could only switch back to being an independent by filling out a new voter registration application.