Open, closed, or private?

New Hampshire is known for its “First in the Nation” Presidential primary. It’s considered a semi-closed primary because registered voters not affiliated with a party can sign up with any recognized party on the day of a primary (State or Federal), and then go back to unaffiliated before they even leave the polling place.

A 2022 bill, HB 1166, would have changed that, requiring voters to declare a party affiliation at least four months in advance. The bill also required a person to be a member of a party for six months before running as a candidate of that party. Fortunatly, Governor Sununu vetoed the bill.

The number of undeclared voters has more than doubled since the 1990s and there are now more of them than Democrats or Republicans. Back in ’90s, and from 2018 to 2020, the Libertarian Party also had ballot access, before the statewide vote threshold for party qualification was increased, knocking Libertarians out of the primary process, requiring them to collect thousands and thousands of signatures to get their candidates on the ballot from top to bottom, and putting them at a major disadvantage compared to the incumbent parties.

Libertarians believe that political parties should pay for their own primaries and chose the rules for who can vote in them as well as what voting method is used. Taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for primaries, especially when their preferred party has been effectively shut out by ballot access laws and ‘first past the post’ general elections that inherently enforce a bipolar advantage. A change to approval voting would end the “wasted vote’ effect and let all voters’ choices be heard.