*Please note: This article is a student blog written by a Kevin B. Harrington Student Ambassador. The Ambassador Program is a unique opportunity for Saint Anselm College students of any major to be involved in supporting the Institute's various events and activities. To learn more about our student ambassadors please visit the NHIOP website.

As the 2024 presidential election draws nearer, members of the press are preparing to cover the primary election in New Hampshire, which has historically been the first in the nation. To assist in preparing reporters, New Hampshire Secretary of State David M. Scanlan hosted a media primer at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics on Tuesday, October 24th. 

In an effort to ensure accurate coverage of the New Hampshire presidential primary, the date of which has yet to be announced, Secretary Scanlan briefed journalists from CBS News, the Associated Press, and WMUR News 9 on the history of New Hampshire’s status as the first in the nation presidential primary and explained the details of the state’s election process.

NH Secretary of State giving a talk in the NHIOP

He started by giving members of the news media basic information about both the polling and vote counting processes. Among New Hampshire’s 221 towns and 13 cities, there are 308 physical polling locations across the state. Secretary Scanlan informed reporters that there are systems of checks and balances in place to ensure an honest election takes place. These measures include the appointment of ballot clerks by political parties, the opportunity to challenge a voter’s qualification with cause, and the dedication to counting votes transparently at each polling location. Secretary Scanlan also made a point to share that write-in votes are common in New Hampshire, and he is certain that polling officials and volunteers will be prepared to count the anticipated large volume of write-in votes in the 2024 New Hampshire Presidential Primary. 

Secretary Scanlan also addressed long-standing criticism of New Hampshire’s predominately white ethnic and socio-economic makeup, stating, “Those are not facts we should run away from.” Instead of focusing on the state’s demographics, the Secretary of State pointed towards New Hampshire primary’s rules and processes in his defense of the state’s first in the nation status. He pointed out that through its filing process, which requires candidates to testify that they meet the requirements to run for president under Article 2 of the United States Constitution and pay a $1,000 fee, New Hampshire aims to give all candidates a fair chance to get their name on the primary ballot without the interference of political parties. 

The Secretary compared New Hampshire’s regulations to South Carolina, which requires a filing fee of $20,000, and Michigan, which has the Secretary of State issue a list of individuals who are largely considered by the media to be presidential candidates and gives political parties the opportunity to add names to the primary ballot. For a person whose name is not on the ballot to obtain a spot, they must file a petition. Secretary Scanlan cited New Hampshire’s alternative primary process as a mark of a democratic and fair procedure that sets it apart from others. 

When discussing the criticism, and potential penalties, the Granite State faces from the Democratic National Convention (DNC), the Secretary of State remained steadfast in his defense of New Hampshire: “The DNC will continue to challenge until they get tired and give up,” Scanlan stated, “But we won't.”


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