Resource: Libertarian Party of NH v. Sununu

By: Healthy Elections Project

September 21, 2020

Healthy Elections Project

Under New Hampshire law, a candidate unaffiliated with a party must secure nomination papers from registered voters to be placed on the ballot. They need 3,000 for the positions of President, Vice President, U.S. Senator and Governor, and 1,500 for the position of U.S. Representative. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Libertarian party believes that it cannot safely secure these papers because they were normally obtained through door-to-door solicitations or at public events. They sued the Governor and Secretary of State, claiming that: (1) due to the pandemic, the number of nomination papers required places an undue burden on their First Amendment rights of Speech, Petitioning, and Association; (2) these requirements are not narrowly tailored to an important State interest; and (3) Plaintiffs would have secured positions on the ballot in the absence of the pandemic. The plaintiffs ask the Court to enter a temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunctions enjoining the Governor and Secretary of State from denying Plaintiffs’ positions on the election ballot as candidates of the Libertarian Party. Alternatively, the court should reduce the required number of nomination papers by 90%. The motion for temporary restraining order was denied without prejudice for insufficient showing of irreparable harm if immediate temporary injunctive relief was not granted without notice to adverse parties. A hearing for the motion for TRO and preliminary injunction is currently being heard as of July 22. There is also a motion to consolidate the Preliminary Injunction Hearing with the Final Hearing.