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Final results: Summary results | Town resultsThe BasicsThe New Hampshire primary is a mainstay in American electoral politics. Every four years, voters gather to help determine the Republican and/or Democratic nominee for President. While the state only has 12 electoral votes in 2012 (normally it’s 24, but the Republican National Committee penalized the state party for moving up the event date), the primary’s position as one of the earliest contests gives the state out-sized influence over the nomination process.Only the Iowa caucuses come before New Hampshire’s primary. Traditionally, New Hampshire’s broad-based primary contest has been seen as a counter-weight to Iowa’s more drawn-out caucus process, which tends to draw a smaller core of party faithful. In the case of the 2012 Republican race, New Hampshire’s electorate is seen to represent the more libertarian-leaning, fiscally conservative wing of the party, while Iowa voters are seen as representing the socially conservative wing of the GOP base.N.H. Primary summary provided by StateImpact - NH reporter, Amanda Loder

Lawmaker Proposes Closing N.H.'s Primaries, Cites Potential For Electoral Sabotage

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The way Rep. Norman Silber sees it, a party primary is supposed to select the best person who represents the values and platform of that particular political party — and allowing undeclared voters to weigh in allows for too much electoral mischief.

“It’s not unheard of that some true members of a party who happen to be registered as undeclared choose to vote in the other party’s primary to try to get the worst candidate or at least the one notionally easiest to beat for the general election,” Silber, a Republican from Gilford, told his colleagues at a House Election Law Committee hearing Tuesday morning. “And this applies irrespective of what party you’re registered as.”

The first-term representative introduced a billthis week that would explicitly ban undeclared voters from participating in primary elections in New Hampshire, unless they change their registration before Election Day.

(The original version of Silber's bill would have eliminated same-day voter registration and imposed new rules for student identification cards used for voting, but he's now opting to focus solely on rules around party primaries. An updated version of his bill is likely to appear online soon.)

About 40 percent of New Hampshire's voters are not registered with any political party, making undeclared voters the largest political bloc in the state.

Several people testifying against the bill said it could diminish civic participation and potentially undermine the value of New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

Right now, undeclared voters have to temporarily register with a political party before receiving a ballot to vote in a primary election. Then, they have the option to return to undeclared status immediately after voting.

Under existing law, political parties in New Hampshire have the authority to change party rules governing who can participate.

New Hampshire is one of about nine states that allow unaffiliated voters to participate in party primaries but do not allow registered voters of one political party to participate in the contest of another party, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Casey is a Senior News Editor for NHPR. You can contact her with questions or feedback at
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