Laws governing ballot measures in New Hampshire
Statewide, New Hampshire voters can participate in just one of the available seven forms of direct democracy. If the New Hampshire legislature places a constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, voters can ratify or reject it. A second way for New Hampshire voters to vote on constitutional amendments is for such amendments to be placed before them by a constitutional convention.
How the state legislature puts amendments on the ballot
In order for the state legislature to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot, both chambers of the state legislature must approve doing so by a vote in each house of at least 60%. Once any such constitutional amendment is on the ballot, the state's voters must approve it by a 2/3 vote for it to pass.
How constitutional conventions are convened
The general court of New Hampshire may also, by an affirmative vote of a majority of all members of both houses voting separately, may submit the question, "Shall there by a convention to amend or revise the constitution?" to the state's voters on a statewide ballot. If the general court does not place this measure before the voters at least once every ten years, the New Hampshire Secretary of State shall submit the question to a general election in the tenth year following the last such submission. If a majority of voters approve of the holding of a constitutional convention, delegates for the convention are chosen at the next regular general election, although the state legislature can decree an earlier date of election for constitutional convention delegates. The constitutional convention may choose amendments by a 3/5 vote and if it does so, those amendments will be placed before the state's voters as statewide ballot questions. They must be approved by a 2/3 vote to pass.
Local ballot initiatives
In most cities 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.
Ballot referendum form of town meeting
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.
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.
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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