Bill Gardner

Casey McDermott / NHPR

You might have heard that the New Hampshire primary is coming up on a big 100-year milestone in 2020. The Secretary of State’s office has marked the occasion with a commemorative centennial poster and — just last week — a special ceremony featuring the families of people who’ve shaped the primary’s history.

But if the idea of a 100th anniversary sounds familiar, it’s because you might have heard something similar four years ago.

Casey McDermott / NHPR

It's official: The date of the upcoming New Hampshire primary is Feb. 11, 2020.

That announcement came as no surprise, since the Iowa caucuses have long been scheduled for Feb. 3, 2020, and the New Hampshire primary typically follows one week later. But, by law, the New Hampshire primary date isn't official until Secretary of State Bill Gardner says so. And that didn’t happen until Monday afternoon.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Presidential candidates of all stripes have begun filing to get on the New Hampshire primary ballot. The 2020 filing period, a defining ritual of the presidential politics, opened Wednesday in the State House and will stretch for more than two weeks.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Candidates who've been campaigning in New Hampshire for months will find out this week when they'll be able to officially sign up for the first-in-the-nation presidential primaries.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner says he will announce the dates of the 2020 filing period early this week. During the roughly 12-day period, candidates or their representatives sign paperwork in Gardner's office and pay $1,000 to get on the ballot.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

With New Hampshire well into the swing of the presidential primary season, a new podcast from NHPR explores how the state has kept hold of its first-in-the-nation primary status.

It's called Stranglehold, and the first episode is out now. It's called "The Guardian," and it examines the role of Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the man who's been called the "Guardian" of the New Hampshire primary for decades.

Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Stranglehold co-hosts Lauren Chooljian and Jack Rodolico about the new podcast, which will run right up to the 2020 presidential primary.

josh rogers /nhpr

 

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is taking aim at two bills backed by Democrats to rollback laws passed by Republicans in recent years.

One would eliminate new steps in the voter registration process.

Another bill aims to make it easier for transient populations, like college students and members of the military, to vote here without running afoul of other state laws.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

State lawmakers are considering a bill that would bar candidates for secretary of state and treasurer from forming political committees.

The proposal is backed by the Secretary of State's office.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bill Gardner, the longest serving secretary of state in the nation, was elected to his 22nd term today, besting challenger Colin Van Ostern by just four votes.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The new legislature will be sworn in and pick a Secretary of State on Wednesday. Bill Gardner has been Secretary of State for 42 years, and for most of that time his re-election has been inevitable.

Not this year. 

On one side, there’s an ambitious young politician pitching himself as the man to bring overdue reforms to the New Hampshire’s election system; on the other, there’s an elder statesman drawing on deep institutional ties and a long resume in Concord to win over votes.

This might sound a lot like this year’s race for Secretary of State, which pits former gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern against 42-year incumbent Bill Gardner. But it also describes Gardner’s first campaign for Secretary of Stateback in 1976.

Josh Rogers / NHPR

Wednesday is the day lawmakers will pick New Hampshire’s next Secretary of State, and both candidates—42-year incumbent Bill Gardner and his challenger, former executive councilor Colin Van Ostern—are hustling for support. 

josh rogers / nhpr

Five former New Hampshire governors  -- Republicans John Sununu, Judd Gregg, Steve Merrill Craig Benson, and Democrat John Lynch -- want lawmakers to give Secretary of State Bill Gardner another term. The ex-governors say putting Colin Van Ostern in the job would place the independence of the office and the state’s presidential primary at risk.

Former Governor John Lynch already spoke of Gardner’s behalf before the House Democratic Caucus voted 179 to 23  to back Van Ostern over Gardner.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The newly elected class of New Hampshire legislators barely had time to take a victory lap in their own races earlier this month before they started fielding messages about another campaign — this time, for the Secretary of State. 

josh rogers / nhpr

Republicans in the New Hampshire House met today ahead of selecting their leaders. Several members are vying to lead Republicans as they move from majority to minority status, but the caucus seems united behind Secretary of State Bill Gardner. 

Casey McDermott, NHPR

New Hampshire House Democrats have put Secretary of State Bill Gardner — a 42-year incumbent and a longtime Democrat himself — on notice that he could be out of a job soon.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

The election process has been in the limelight across the country. On Friday morning, New Hampshire's top election officials gathered to send a strong message that the state's voting systems can be trusted.

Attorney General Gordon MacDonald reiterated that despite some recent court rulings and changes this year to the voter registration process, the state is on track for a smooth election.

"New Hampshire has a long history of running elections that are fair, well-run, and a very high degree of voter participation,” MacDonald said.

Invitation via Josh Zakim's Facebook Page

 It's not out of the ordinary to see a New Hampshire politician skip across the state's southern border to raise money in Boston. What is unusual — really, unheard of until this year — is to see that from someone running for Secretary of State.

NHPR Staff

Nearly three months after President Donald Trump disbanded his controversial voter fraud commission, the public can get a peek at the voter data New Hampshire was prepared to turn over.

NHPR File

There’s been a lot of talk in the past year about the need to pass stricter voting laws and clean up New Hampshire’s elections. But there’s been a lot less talk about any specific cases of voter fraud. NHPR’s Casey McDermott wanted to find out more about what the issue actually looks like.

NHPR Staff

Dissatisfied with both the incumbent and his well-financed challenger, another Democrat is putting himself forward as an alternative to longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

Former Manchester Representative and Alderman Peter Sullivan says he respects Gardner’s 42 years years of service in the position but believes it’s time to put someone more forward-thinking in the role.

vanostern.com

It was a scene you'd expect at your average campaign launch: dozens of supporters gathered at a press conference just steps from the State House, top party officials waiting to offer endorsements and a well-endowed fundraising committee waiting behind the scenes.

An average campaign launch — except for the fact that any kind of campaign for this particular office, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State, was all but unprecedented.

White House Livestream

Secretary of State Bill Gardner says he was "surprised" and disappointed to find out that the presidential advisory commission he was tapped to serve on last May had been abruptly dissolved. While the announcement was made Wednesday night, Gardner said he didn’t learn of the news until Thursday morning.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

The Trump administration’s election commission has gone largely silent since its September meeting in Manchester. But one of its members, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, says even he is having trouble finding out basic information about the commission’s work — and he’s now filing a lawsuit seeking more transparency.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Bud Fitch is a familiar face around New Hampshire’s Statehouse and its broader political circles. He’s served as deputy attorney general, as Gov. John Lynch’s so-called "stimulus czar" and as a top staffer for former Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Since August, Fitch has been working under Secretary of State Bill Gardner in a newly created position as a dedicated attorney focusing on election law.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s participation on President Trump’s election commission has earned him criticism that he’s undercutting his decades of work as New Hampshire’s top elections official. Gardner, for his part, says he’s taking part in the controversial commission “in [his] personal capacity.”

Still, over the past five months since the commission was formed, state workers — including Gardner's staff assistant and attorneys employed by the New Hampshire Secretary of State — have repeatedly been called upon to carry out work related to the commission, apparently on state time.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

The Trump administration’s election commission met in New Hampshire on Tuesday, putting a national spotlight on the state’s election processes. Also in the spotlight was the man who’s been in charge of New Hampshire elections for the last four decades.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan called on Secretary of State Bill Gardner to resign from President Trump’s voting commission, after the chair of that same commission wrote a Breitbart column casting doubt on the outcome of last November’s election results in New Hampshire.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

A federal oversight agency’s review of how New Hampshire is spending $18 million in federal election money finds that the state, for the most part, follows the rules. But the back-and-forth within the audit illuminates a larger and long-running tension between the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office and the federal elections officials.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A pair of lawsuits were filed Wednesday challenging a controversial new voting law, SB3, just weeks before the law is set to take effect.

One legal challenge comes from the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The other is filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and three individual would-be voters.

White House Livestream

A lawsuit that sought to restrict New Hampshire's ability to share voter information with the Trump administration’s election integrity commission was resolved in court Monday. 

Both sides compromised on a plan to allow Secretary of State Bill Gardner to share scanned, unsearchable copies of local voter checklists from all wards across the state— not the larger, digitized version of that information that is collected in the central statewide voter database.

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