New Hampshire Representative Joel Winters (D-Manchester) has introduced HB 2523, to change the definition of “political party” from a group that polled 4% for either Governor or U.S. Senator, to a group that polled 3% for either of those offices. The New Hampshire legislature won’t meet until 2014, but New Hampshire legislators introduce bills in advance of the beginning of the session. Thanks to Darryl Perry for this news.
From 1891 until 1997, New Hampshire defined a party as a group that had polled 3% for Governor. In 1997 the percentage was changed to 4%, and U.S. Senate was added to Governor as a race in which the vote test applies. Ever since the November 1996 election, only the Democratic and Republican Parties have been recognized. Although New Hampshire has a party petition procedure, if a group completes the party petition, it still doesn’t have the status of a “party” and if people register as members of such a group, election officials consider them independent voters. That is why there has been no tally of the number of registered Libertarians, Greens, or other minor parties, in many years. The New Hampshire party petition procedure requires a petition of 3% of the last gubernatorial vote, which is so difficult, it has never been used, except by the Libertarian Party in 2000 and 2012.