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Local ballot measures, New Hampshire

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School bond and tax votes

See also: School bond and tax elections in New Hampshire

New Hampshire does not require school districts to seek voter approval to issue new bonding. New Hampshire is one of nine states along with the District of Columbia to not require school bond or tax elections. All bonding is approved by the New Hampshire School Building Authority. A five person board determines all school funding requests. The State of New Hampshire guarantees $95 million per a fiscal cycle for issuing new bonds. If a school district has bonding approved by the Authority, the Authority must review the project with similar projects in the past against the school district's needs to determine how much money is awarded. Also, the Authority must review requests within the $95 million dollar limit.

Gay marriage debate via town meetings

Anti-gay marriage activists are trying to cultivate grass root support for repealing the legalization of gay marriages that was enacted by the state legislature and put into effect January 1, 2010. Activists have produced a non-binding petition that asks New Hampshire citizens if they would like the option to define what marriage is, they hope to circulate these petitions at local town meeting halls to garner support. The petition does not go as far to say what the definition of marriage should be, just asks if voters want the opportunity to decide. As little as 25 signatures from local residents is all that is needed for the petition to be discussed at one of the town meetings. A three-fifths vote from the state Senate and House would be needed for the issue to be put to a vote.[1]

As of January 15, Hampton, North Hampton and Seabrook are a few of the towns that have filed their petitions to the town councils in order to try and get a vote on the state ballot to overturn the gay marriage law. In total, 57 towns were given the petition to file with their town councils and 49 met the deadline. Advocates for this change of the amendment feel that there is a strong sentiment that the 223 towns in the state will push for this vote. Proponents also push that their goal is still to be able to let the people decide, even though they are against gay marriage they feel their strongest pojnt is that regardless the people needed to have a vote on the issue.[2]

January 20, the New Hampshire House was asked to repeal the gay marriage law that it had approved. This was prompted after the grassroots organization in the different cities stated that the representatives do not actually represent the people because if the marriage issue had been a vote then it would not have passed, or so they say. Their hope is that by raising the issues in town meetings now, come November elections those candidates that lean towards their goals will have a better chance at getting elected.[3]

The effort to get legislators to proposed a charter amendment is now called Article 14 and has been successful in gaining a foothold in local towns. Rockingham County has a March election that will have this issue on their ballot. The issue was discussed in their town meeting and by process of secret ballots, the issue was approved in its entirety for the march election. Opponents voiced their strong belief that this in infringing on civil rights. This vote is just advisory, it is yet unclear what the vote will actually mean if it is passed.[4]

Laws governing

In some cities and towns in New Hampshire, residents can place an initiative on the ballot through the petition process. Signatures equalling 20% of the city-wide vote in the most recent election is the general requirement to place a measure on a city-wide ballot.

Article 39

Article 39 of the First Part of the New Hampshire Constitution says:

"No law changing the charter or form of government of a particular city or town shall be enacted by the legislature except to become effective upon the approval of the voters of such city or town upon a referendum to be provided for in said law. The legislature may by general law authorize cities and towns to adopt or amend their charters or forms of government in any way which is not in conflict with general law, provided that such charters or amendments shall become effective only upon the approval of the voters of each such city or town on a referendum."

Amendments to municipal charters

RSA 49-B:5 allows changes to municipal charters by referral or initiative.

Board referral

If the board of a municipality wants to recommend a change to the municipality's charter, they can place a question on the ballot. The election on the question can take place:

  • At the next regular municipal election
  • In the case of municipalities with biennial elections, at the next regular state biennial election held not less than 60 days after the vote to refer the measure to the ballot takes place.
  • The board can also order a special election to be held not less than 60 days from the date of the order for the purpose of voting on the proposed amendments.

Charter amendments must be limited to a single-subject.

Initiative

According to RSA 49-B:5(II):

"On the written petition of a number of voters equal to at least 20 percent of the number of votes cast in a municipality at the last regular municipal election, but in no case less than 10 voters, the municipal officers shall, by order, provide that proposed amendments to the municipal charter be placed on a ballot..."

Liquor sales

If 5% of the legal voters of a city or town file a petition with the New Hampshire Secretary of State no earlier than the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in August, and no later than the first Friday in September before a state general election, ballot questions worded as below shall be placed before a city or town's voters:

  • "Shall state stores be operated by permission of the state liquor commission in this city or town?"
  • "Shall malt beverages (beer) be sold by permission of the state liquor commission in this city or town?"
  • "Shall wines containing not less than 6 percent nor more than 15.5 percent of alcoholic content by volume at 60 degrees Fahrenheit (table wine) be sold by permission of the state liquor commission in this city or town?"
  • "Shall liquor be sold for consumption on the premises where sold by permission of the state liquor commission in this city or town?"

If a majority of the qualified voters present and voting in a city or town signifies its approval, then the state liquor commission at its discretion may operate state liquor stores in the town or city in question.

Town meetings via ballot measures

Cities and towns in New Hampshire may adopt what is called the "ballot referendum form" of their town meeting; this allows citizens to collect signatures and place questions directly before the voter through a standard election process rather than participating in person at a town meeting.

Sweepstakes

If 5% of the legal voters of a city or town file a petition with the Secretary of State no earlier than the first Wednesday after the first Tuesday in August, and no later than the first Friday in September before a state general election, ballot questions worded as below shall be placed before a city or town's voters:

  • "Shall sweepstakes tickets (continue to) be sold in this city or town?"

If a majority of those voting vote "yes" on the question, tickets may be sold or continued to be sold by the commission in that city or town.

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Local elections

2010

2009

New Hampshire counties

BelknapCarrollCheshireCoosGraftonHillsboroughMerrimackRockinghamStraffordSullivan

References

External links