On July 22, 2014, the ACLU-NH filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Libertarian Party challenging HB1542. HB1542 is a new state law passed in 2014 that imposes onerous restrictions on third parties by compressing the time period for third parties to collect the number of signatures necessary to get on the ballot. This law limits voter choice and stacks the deck against candidates who—like roughly 40% of Granite Staters—don’t belong to a major party. HB1542 is wrong and unconstitutional.
HB1542 addresses the ability of a third party to gain access to the ballot as a recognized political party. Gaining access to the ballot as a recognized party has real advantages, including the ability to run a slate of candidates and engage in pre-election organizing. HB1542 states that, when a third party seeks to gain access to the ballot before an election by collecting certified signatures, those signatures “shall be signed and dated in the year of the election.” In short, HB1542 prohibits third parties from collecting signatures before January 1 of the election year, and they will now only have 7 months to collect the necessary number of signatures (from January 1 to early August). This compressed time frame will make the task of obtaining ballot access far more difficult—if not impossible—for third parties.
On September 22, 2014, the State filed a motion to dismiss the Libertarian Party’s lawsuit. On October 23, 2014, the Libertarian Party filed its objection to the State’s motion to dismiss. On December 30, 2014, the State’s motion to dismiss was denied.
On May 6, 2015, the Libertarian Party filed its motion for summary seeking a permanent injunction barring enforcement of HB1542. The State objected to this motion and on June 15, 2015, the Party filed a reply.
On August, 27, 2015, the federal district court upheld HB1542. The Party has appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The Party filed its First Circuit brief on February 19, 2016 and a reply brief on April 20, 2016. The appeal is pending.