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State Ballot Law Commission upholds barring Cenk Uygur from NH Primary ballot

Cenk Uygur's rejected 2024 NH Presidential Primary Declaration of Candidacy form
Josh Rogers
Cenk Uygur's rejected 2024 New Hampshire presidential primary Declaration of Candidacy form

New Hampshire’s Ballot Law Commission has unanimously denied an effort by progressive TV-host Cenk Uygur to get on the state’s Democratic presidential primary ballot.

Secretary of State David Scanlan rejected Uygur’s campaign filing last month because Uygur, who was born in Turkey and is a naturalized US citizen, crossed out passages on the legally required filing form — including language noting that a presidential candidate is required to be a natural-born citizen.

Uygur and his lawyer noted several issues with the form, which is specified by state law, including that it cites the wrong part of the U.S. Constitution when it discusses candidate qualifications,

“On its face, the statue makes no sense,” Uygur’s lawyer, Dwayne Sam, argued before the Ballot Law Commission Thursday.

While commissioners agreed that the form and state law did include a citation error, they argued its bottom line meaning was clear enough.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand this,” said Commission Chairman Brad Cook.

Other members stressed the commission's role in these matters is limited to deciding whether Scanlan upheld the law in rejecting Uygur’s declaration of candidacy.

“This declaration of candidacy form is spelled out in statute,” said David Campbell, a Ballot Law Commissioner and former Democratic lawmaker. “It’s been altered, cross-out and modified. Whether we agree with it or not, that on its face is not in keeping with state law.”

Uygur told the commission he didn't want to lie by signing an unaltered form, and asked for ballot access, which he called “due process,” while he mounted a federal legal challenge on the issue.

“If you say that I can’t go on the ballot, that hurts the campaign so much. And what it does is it makes it feel like the issue has already been adjudicated,” Uygur said. “Whether it has or it hasn't, the public perception is that it has been adjudicated."

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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