TITLE LXIII
ELECTIONS

CHAPTER 652
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Terms and Definitions

Section 652:1

    652:1 Election. – "Election" shall mean the choosing of a public officer or of a delegate to a party convention or the nominating of a candidate for public office by voters by means of a direct vote conducted under the election laws. The term does not include caucuses or conventions. The types of elections are further defined in this chapter.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:2

    652:2 Regular Election, Special Election. – "Regular election" shall mean an election required to be held periodically under the election laws, a city charter, or a local by-law, and which is held in accordance with the same. Any other election shall be a "special election." As used in the election laws, "election" shall mean a regular election.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:3

    652:3 State Election. – "State election" shall mean an election to choose a federal, state, or county officer or a delegate to a party convention or to nominate a candidate for federal, state or county office. The 3 types of state elections are defined in RSA 652:4, 652:5 and 652:6.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:4

    652:4 State General Election. – "State general election" shall mean an election to choose a federal, state, or county officer.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:5

    652:5 State Primary Election. – "State primary election" shall mean an election to nominate a candidate for federal, state, or county office or to choose a delegate to a state party convention.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:6

    652:6 Presidential Primary Election. – "Presidential primary election" shall mean an election to choose delegates to a national party convention.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:7

    652:7 Town Election. – "Town election" shall mean an election to choose a town officer.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:8

    652:8 City Election. – "City election" shall mean an election to choose a city officer.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:9

    652:9 School District Election. – "School district election" shall mean an election to choose a school district officer.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:10

    652:10 Village District Election. – "Village district election" shall mean an election to choose a village district officer.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:11

    652:11 Party. – "Party" shall mean any political organization which at the preceding state general election received at least 4 percent of the total number of votes cast for any one of the following: the office of governor or the offices of United States senators.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1997, 253:1, eff. Jan. 1, 1999.

Section 652:12

    652:12 Vacancy. –
A "vacancy" shall occur in a public office if, subsequent to his or her election and prior to the completion of his or her term, the person elected to that office:
I. Either dies, resigns, or ceases to have domicile in the state or the district from which he or she was elected; or
II. Is determined by a court having jurisdiction to be insane or mentally incompetent; or
III. Is convicted of a crime which disqualifies him or her from holding office; or
IV. Fails or refuses to take the oath of office within the period prescribed in RSA 42:6 or to give or renew an official bond if required by law; or
V. Has his or her election voided by court decision or ballot law commission decision; or
VI. Is a member of the general court of New Hampshire and a member of a military reserve or national guard unit; and
(a) The member was called to serve in an emergency; and
(b) Service in such unit causes the member to be unable to perform his or her legislative duties, as determined by the house of representatives in the case of a member of the house of representatives and by the senate in the case of a member of the senate, for longer than 180 consecutive days; and
(c) The selectmen of any town or ward in the district from which the member is elected request of the governor and council that the office be declared vacant.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1991, 216:1. 1994, 70:5. 2003, 22:2, eff. April 24, 2003.

Section 652:13

    652:13 Federal Election. – "Federal election" shall mean any state general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of choosing or nominating any candidates for the offices of president, vice-president, United States senator, or United States representative. For federal ballot only voters domiciled outside the United States who are eligible to vote in federal elections as provided in RSA 657:2, "federal election" shall also include any presidential primary election.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1983, 176:1. 1986, 126:1. 2010, 317:2, eff. July 18, 2010.

Section 652:14


See Emergency Order #83 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2021-83-Emerg. (2021, 2083:1.)), issued pursuant to Executive Order 2020-04 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-04 (2020, 1004:1.)) as extended by Executive Orders 2020-05 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-05 (2020, 1005:1.)); 2020-08 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-08 (2020, 1008:1.)); 2020-09 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-09 (2020, 1009:1.)); 2020-010 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-010 (2020, 1010:1.)); 2020-014 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-014 (2020, 1014:1.)); 2020-015 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-015 (2020, 1015:1.)); 2020-016 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-016 (2020, 1016:1.)); 2020-017 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-017 (2020, 1017:1.)); 2020-018 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-018 (2020, 1018:1.)); 2020-020 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-020 (2020, 1020:1.)); 2020-021 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-021 (2020, 1021:1.)); 2020-022 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-022 (2020, 1022:1.)); 2020-023 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-023 (2020, 1023:1.)); 2020-024 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-024 (2020, 1024:1.)); 2020-025 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2020-025 (2020, 1025:1.)); 2021-01 (NH LEGIS E.O. 2021-01 (2021, 1001:1.)), and related to the COVID-19 State of Emergency, for potential impact on the terms of this section.
    652:14 Election Officer. – "Election officer" shall mean any moderator, deputy moderator, assistant moderator, town clerk, deputy town clerk, city clerk, deputy city clerk, ward clerk, selectman, supervisor of the checklist, registrar, or deputy registrar.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 2003, 289:48, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Section 652:14-a

    652:14-a City Chief Elections Officer. – The city clerk shall be the chief elections officer with authority to establish uniform practices and procedures that conform to state and federal law for all elections conducted by the city.

Source. 2006, 78:1, eff. July 1, 2006.

Section 652:15

    652:15 Supervisors of the Checklist. – The term "supervisors of the checklist" shall include any board of registrars or similar body performing the functions of registering voters and correcting the checklist in cities.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:16

    652:16 Town. – The term "town" shall include wards in cities.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:16-a

    652:16-a Undeclared Voter. – The term "undeclared voter" shall mean a voter who is registered as a member of no political party.

Source. 1993, 193:1, eff. Aug. 8, 1993.

Section 652:16-b

    652:16-b UOCAVA Voters. – "UOCAVA voters" shall mean absent uniformed services voters, absent voters temporarily residing outside the United States, and federal ballot only voters domiciled outside the United States as described in RSA 654:3.

Source. 2010, 317:3, eff. July 18, 2010.

Section 652:16-c

    652:16-c Absent Uniformed Services Voters. –
"Absent uniformed services voters" shall mean persons who are absent from the places of residence in New Hampshire where they are otherwise qualified to vote who are:
I. Members of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and National Guard, the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and all regular and reserve components thereof, while in active service.
II. Members of the Merchant Marine of the United States, including individuals (other than members of a uniformed service or individuals employed, enrolled, or maintained on the Great Lakes or the inland waterways):
(a) Employed as officers or crew members of vessels documented under the laws of the United States, or of vessels owned by the United States, or of vessels of foreign-flag registry under charter to or control of the United States; or
(b) Enrolled with the United States for employment, or for training for employment, or maintained by the United States for emergency relief service, as officers or crew members of any such vessel.
III. The spouses or dependents of any member described in paragraph I or II who, by reason of the active duty or service of the member, is absent from the place of residence in New Hampshire where the spouse or dependent is otherwise qualified to vote.

Source. 2010, 317:3, eff. July 18, 2010. 2016, 183:1, eff. Aug. 2, 2016.

Section 652:16-d

    652:16-d Accessible Voting System. – "Accessible voting system" shall mean the system chosen by the state to meet the accessibility for individuals with disabilities requirements of section 301 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, 42 U.S.C. section 15481, that has the capacity to print a paper ballot marked with the votes chosen by the voter.

Source. 2010, 317:3, eff. July 18, 2010.

Section 652:16-e

    652:16-e Business Session. – "Business session" means, in a town that has not adopted the provisions of RSA 40:13, the session of a town meeting at which voters discuss, deliberate, and vote on matters other than the election of officers by official ballot and other questions that are placed on the official ballot.

Source. 2019, 192:4, eff. July 10, 2019.

Section 652:16-f

    652:16-f Deliberative Session. – "Deliberative session" means the first session of a meeting in a town that has adopted the provisions of RSA 40:13.

Source. 2019, 192:4, eff. July 10, 2019.

Section 652:16-g

    652:16-g Official Ballot Voting Day. – "Official ballot voting day" means the day on which voters in a town vote on the election of officers or other questions authorized by law to be voted on by official ballot, or both, in compliance with the procedures for elections for the partisan official ballot system as set forth in RSA 669:12 or the nonpartisan official ballot system as set forth in RSA 669:19 through RSA 669:22, RSA 670:5 through RSA 670:7, and RSA 671:20 through RSA 671:30, including all requirements pertaining to absentee voting, the polling place, and polling hours.

Source. 2019, 192:4, eff. July 10, 2019.

Section 652:16-h

    652:16-h Electioneering. –
Electioneering means visibly displaying or audibly disseminating information that a reasonable person would believe explicitly advocates for or against any candidate, political party, or measure being voted. Electioneering includes, but is not limited to:
I. Wearing clothing or paraphernalia that displays a candidate's name, likeness, or logo, a ballot measure's number, title, subject, or logo, a political party's name or logo, or any communication that a reasonable person would believe explicitly advocates for or against any candidate, political party, or measure, provided that a person eligible to vote or register to vote in the voting district who is unable to remove or cover clothing that explicitly advocates for or against any candidate, political party, or measure, may wear such clothing in the polling place while actively engaged in the process of registering to vote or while actively engaged in the process of voting.
II. Distributing or posting a card, handbill, poster, placard, picture, pin, sticker, circular, or any other form of communication that a reasonable person would believe explicitly advocates for or against any candidate, political party, or measure.

Source. 2020, 36:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2020.

Time Computation

Section 652:17

    652:17 Uniform System. – For the purposes of the election laws, a uniform system of computation of time shall be maintained.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Section 652:18

    652:18 Days Included and Excluded. –
I. Except where specifically stated to the contrary, when a period or limit of time is to be reckoned from a day or date, that day or date shall be excluded from and the day on which an act should occur shall be included in the computation of the period or limit of time.
II. Whenever the election laws refer to a period or limit of time, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays shall be included, except as provided in paragraph I. However, when the last day for performing any act under the election laws is a Saturday, Sunday or official state holiday, the act required shall be deemed to be duly performed if it is performed on the following business day.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1994, 4:2, eff. May 27, 1994; 348:2, eff. July 1, 1994.

Section 652:19

    652:19 Repealed by 1994, 348:3, eff. July 1, 1994. –

Section 652:20

    652:20 End of Day. – Whenever the election laws require a filing with or an action by an official, such filing or action shall be performed before 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the stipulated day. During the afternoon of the stipulated day, the school district clerk or his designee, or the town clerk or his designee, shall arrange his time so as to be available between the hours of 3 o'clock and 5 o'clock.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1985, 7:1, eff. May 31, 1985.

Political Calendar

Section 652:21

    652:21 Authority; Format. – Prior to the state primary election, the secretary of state with the advice and approval of the attorney general shall prepare a political calendar for state and town elections setting forth the dates when action required under the election laws must be taken. Any action taken by any candidate or official in connection with the election laws which shall be taken in accordance with the dates set forth in said calendar shall be deemed to be duly performed for the purposes of the election laws. The expense of printing said political calendar shall be a charge upon the appropriation for the office of the secretary of state.

Source. 1979, 436:1, eff. July 1, 1979.

Election Manual

Section 652:22

    652:22 Authority; Format; Distribution. – The secretary of state, with the advice and approval of the attorney general, shall prepare or cause to be prepared preceding each state general election an up-to-date manual on the New Hampshire election laws and procedures for conducting elections. The manual shall be written in nontechnical language. The manual shall be distributed free of charge to each moderator, board of selectmen, city council, and board of supervisors of the checklist and to each town, city, and ward clerk. The secretary of state may distribute the manual in either electronic or printed format. The secretary of state may distribute said manual to any other person who requests it.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 2009, 214:1, eff. Sept. 13, 2009.

Chief Election Officer

Section 652:23

    652:23 Chief Election Officer. – The secretary of state shall be the chief election officer for the state. The secretary of state shall provide information regarding voter registration procedures and absentee ballot procedures for all voters, including absent uniformed services voters, absent voters temporarily residing outside the United States, and federal ballot only voters domiciled outside the United States. Instructional and informational materials published by the secretary of state for clerks to provide such voters shall include information on how to communicate electronically with election officials.

Source. 2010, 317:4, eff. July 18, 2010.

Voter Identification Advisory Committee

Section 652:24

    652:24 Voter Identification Advisory Committee. –
I. There is established a voter identification advisory committee. The committee shall review the implementation of voter identification requirements after every state general election. If the committee determines that problems exist requiring statutory changes, the committee shall report its findings to the senate and house standing committees with jurisdiction over election laws.
II. The members of the committee shall be as follows:
(a) The secretary of state or designee.
(b) The president of the senate or designee.
(c) The speaker of the house of representatives or designee.
(d) The governor or designee.
(e) The president of the New Hampshire City and Town Clerks' Association, or his or her representative.
III. The committee shall meet at the call of the secretary of state or designee, who shall serve as chairperson.

Source. 2012, 284:2, eff. June 27, 2012.

Notice of Voter Identification Requirements

Section 652:25

    652:25 Notice of Voter Identification Requirements. – Every town and city clerk shall prominently display a notice prepared by the secretary of state explaining the photo identification requirements for voters and directing voters to the department of state's website for additional information. Such notice shall be displayed for at least 14 days prior to each election held after the effective date of this section.

Source. 2012, 284:2, eff. June 27, 2012.

Voter Education Requirements

Section 652:26

    652:26 Voter Education Requirements. –
I. The secretary of state shall prepare an explanatory document explaining the proof of identity requirements of RSA 659:13, including all the permissible methods for proving identity and the dates of applicability of these requirements. The secretary of state shall provide copies of the explanatory document to all towns and wards, so it will be available to all persons registering to vote at the city or town hall and at all polling places at each election held after the effective date of this section.
II. The secretary of state shall take whatever measures he or she deems necessary to educate the public about the voter identification requirements in RSA 659:13. Such measures shall include prominently displaying on the department of state's website information for voters relating to the voter identification requirements in RSA 659:13. The department shall also provide explanatory information relating to voter identification requirements to media outlets that request such information and shall encourage such outlets to assist the department in educating the public about the voter identification requirements in RSA 659:13.

Source. 2012, 284:2, eff. June 27, 2012.

Electronic Poll Books

Section 652:27


[RSA 652:27 repealed by 2017, 200:3, effective January 1, 2023.]
    652:27 Electronic Poll Books. –
I. Cities and towns are hereby authorized to conduct a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in for elections. The trial shall be compliant with all statutes directly or indirectly related to voter checklists and maintenance of the statewide centralized voter registration database including the processes related to voter registration, voter check-in and check-out, the processing of absentee ballots, the collection of all fields of data required for registration or check-in, and the delivery of that data to the secretary of state in a format compatible with the statewide centralized voter registration database. The provisions of RSA 654:34, RSA 659:55, RSA 659:13, RSA 659:14, and RSA 659:23, as they relate to manual entries on a paper checklist, are hereby waived in order to accommodate an electronic poll book, provided the same information required of the voter is obtained and recorded by the electronic poll book, and can be retrieved and printed at any time including during an election. In addition, nonpublic data related to individual voter data shall remain confidential, and no voter data shall be released or retained by an electronic poll book vendor, including its agents, or any company or individual that provides software, hardware, or services to the vendor for any purpose. An electronic poll book vendor shall not have access to any voter data except as specifically necessary to setup, maintain, or train for an electronic poll book program authorized under RSA 652:27. Adequate back-up systems shall be in place as determined by the local election officials for local elections and the secretary of state for all other elections. A back-up system shall include a "real time" download of voters who have checked in or registered on the day of the election. The electronic poll book shall have the ability to generate a paper voter checklist completely marked to reflect participation in the election up to the time of any system failure or malfunction. A sufficient number of high speed printers shall be available in the polling place to produce a back-up paper checklist for use in the event of a system failure. A marked checklist shall be printed upon the completion of every election along with any reports required by statute and shall be retained by the clerk.
II. The cities and towns shall assume all costs associated with electronic poll books. No electronic poll book trial program may proceed unless the electronic poll books system and application has been recommended for approval by an evaluator of electronic election systems using requirements established by the secretary of state. Within 30 days of the effective date of this section, the secretary of state shall designate at least one evaluator of electronic election systems to draft test cases, conduct tests, and make recommendations. Recommendations to the secretary of state from an evaluator of electronic election systems shall be conditioned upon safe use procedures. The secretary of state may approve electronic poll book systems based on recommendations from an evaluator of electronic election systems. No city or town may use an electronic poll book system that has not been approved by the secretary of state. The secretary of state, within 30 days of the effective date of this section, shall prepare requirements for conducting a trial of electronic poll book devices that outline specific conditions that must be met for compliance with this section. An electronic poll book trial program must originate with a city or town election before becoming eligible for use at a state election in the same city or town.
III. The city or town clerk shall file with the secretary of state all documentation that is necessary to show that all requirements in this section have been met no later than 30 days before an electronic poll book trial program shall take place. Within 30 days after the initial use of electronic poll books in accordance with this section, the city or town shall submit a report to the secretary of state, who shall review such reports and forward them to the speaker of the house of representatives, the president of the senate, and the chairpersons of the house and senate standing committees with jurisdiction over election law. Each report shall describe the outcome of the program, addressing voter experiences, wait times, voter throughput times, personnel costs, hardware and software costs, and the completeness and accuracy of the data recorded, reported, and submitted for import to the statewide centralized voter registration database.

Source. 2017, 200:1, eff. Aug. 4, 2017.