secretary of state election

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How New Hampshire chooses its secretary of state

Aug 27, 2018

BY: Citizens Count

Currently, the state House and Senate vote the New Hampshire secretary of state into office. It is also that way in Maine.

In most other states, voters directly elect their secretary of state as part of the general election in November.

There is no proposal in New Hampshire to change the current system of appointing the secretary of state.

Granite State lawmakers will choose the secretary of state for a two-year term this December, once the new Legislature is in place after the November mid-term elections.

Democrat William Gardner has been the New Hampshire secretary of state since 1976 but is being challenged by two other candidates: former Executive Council member and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern, and former Democratic Manchester state representative and Alderman Peter Sullivan.

The duties of the secretary of state include overseeing elections and campaign finance, registering businesses and lobbyists, and managing vital records. Secretary of State Gardner is known for his defense of the First in the Nation presidential primary, but faced criticism last year for supporting stricter voter registration laws.

Supporters of a general vote for the secretary of state say voters should have a direct say on a public position that has authority over elections, voter registration, and registering businesses.

Opponents of changing the system argue that it would be a conflict of interest for the secretary to oversee their own election as part of the general election in November.

Should voters – rather than the Legislature – elect the secretary of state in New Hampshire? Leave a comment to have your say.

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