Thursday, November 12, 2015

The New Hampshire Presidential Primary Season Begins, and a Little History, too

A New Hampshire Citizen doing his duty

2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the New Hampshire presidential primary, but the filing period for candidates began last week.  The actual primary day happens, by law, in New Hampshire at least seven days before a similar election in any other state.  It is not just tradition, but on the books.  The Secretary of State, William Gardner, sets the date, which is tentatively 9 February 2016.  But that date can change, and historically has been creeping earlier and earlier.  For generations it was held in mid-March before the presidential election.  Our “First in the Nation” status is a source of pride in the tiny Granite State.

On 21 October 2014 Governor Maggie Hassan appointed five bipartisan members to form a Presidential Primary Centennial Anniversary commission. Back in February 2015 there was an event at the Newseum in Washington, DC to celebrate the New Hampshire Presidential Primary centennial.  There was a big celebration on September 15 at the New Hampshire State Library with speakers from both sides of the aisle, media personalities and political science professors.  We’ll be hearing more about similar events this as we close in on primary day.

New Hampshire State Representative Stephen Bullock of Richmond proposed the first bill that created the primary election.  The first presidential primary was March 1916.   This year, any candidate who signs up to run in primary can sit at Bullock’s desk in Bill Gardner’s office (remember, he is the Secretary of State) to sign the necessary paperwork.  And pay the $1000 fee.   The first two candidates to sign up on November 4th were Donald Trump and Martin O'Malley. 

And I’m still waiting to hear how the closed Balsams Hotel, in Dixville Notch, will host their famous election usually held at one minute after midnight on primary day.   Since the hotel is closed, half of the voters are no longer residents of this polling district.  Will Dixville Notch uphold the tradition? What happens to their famous ballot box? These are important questions!

New Hampshire Primary 100th website 

“Ballot Boxes, Desk, Descendants part of History in Primary Centennial Celebration”, by Holly Ramer of the Associated Press, posted October 29, 2015, 

“Pieces of N.H. Primary History On Display During Filing Period”, by Casey McDermott, at New Hampshire Public Radio, posted 3 November 2015

NECN Interactive 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker:


Published under a Creative Commons License
Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "The New Hampshire Presidential Primary Season Begins, and a Little History, too", Nutfield Genealogy, posted November 12, 2015 ( accessed [access date]). 

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