State General Election

Section 656:5

    656:5 Party Columns. –
I. The names of all candidates nominated in accordance with the election laws shall be arranged upon the state general election ballot in successive party columns. Each separate column shall contain the names of the candidates of one party; except that, if only a part of a full list of candidates is nominated by a political party, 2 or more such lists may be arranged whenever practicable in the same column. The party columns that list the names of candidates for offices that elect more than one person shall stagger the names of the candidates so that they do not line up evenly in a horizontal direction. The left-most column shall begin one line below the column to its right. The secretary of state shall determine the vertical location of any additional columns that may appear on the ballot.
II. The position of party columns shall be rotated on the ballots used so that each party column shall appear thereon, to the extent practicable, an approximately equal number of times in the first, last, and each intermediate column position across the state, without requiring more than one unique column order or ballot format for each town, ward, or unincorporated place. Starting with the general election for 2012 and following each new apportionment of representative districts, but before the close of the period during which a person may accept the nomination of a party committee pursuant to RSA 655:32, the secretary of state shall develop as many generic column rotation plans for use in general elections as he or she might reasonably expect to be needed for different possible numbers of party columns on the general election ballot. If the number of party columns expected on the general election ballot changes such that one or more additional generic column rotation plans are needed, the secretary of state shall, from time to time, prepare such additional plans as are needed for any general election.
III. The generic column rotation plans shall be based on a reasonably balanced rotation of party columns within and across all non-floterial state representative districts, those being the smallest representative districts to which each voting place is apportioned pursuant to part I, article 11 of the New Hampshire constitution. Consideration shall also be given to reasonably minimize any obvious, substantial, and avoidable imbalances in column rotation within senate districts. The average deviation from equal rotation for the first party column position, measured across the state as a whole and based on population according to the last decennial federal census, shall be as close to 0 percent as is practicable but in no event greater than 1 percent. Once generic column rotation plans are established the secretary of state shall publish such plans to the department's website.
IV. Immediately following the close of the period during which a person may accept the nomination of a party committee pursuant to RSA 655:32, the secretary of state or designee shall publicly select by lot the actual party columns to be positioned according to the generic column rotation plan established pursuant to paragraphs II and III. No party shall be assigned the same generic party column designation for 2 consecutive general elections.

Source. 1979, 436:1. 1994, 309:1; 381:7. 1998, 356:3. 1999, 202:1. 2000, 226:1. 2001, 231:9. 2004, 201:1. 2007, 141:1. 2010, 330:10, eff. Jan. 1, 2011.