New Hampshire: Documenting the 2012 Vote

Note: This page covers information specific to New Hampshire. For general information regarding legal issues associated with documenting your vote, see the Documenting the Vote 2012 page.

Photography Inside the Polling Place

No specific statute addresses video or audio recording inside the polling place, but other statutes governing the election process practically limit your ability to do so close to the voting booths. New Hampshire law requires the establishment of a "guardrail,"  "constructed and placed so that only such persons as are inside such rail can approach within 6 feet of the ballot box and of the voting booths" and "such that the voting booths can be reached only by passing within the guardrail." N.H. Rev. Stat. §658:9. Only election officers, voters, and those specially admitted to provide assistance to a voter are allowed within the guardrail. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:21. This would seem to preclude any observation within 6 feet of the voting area.

That said, New Hampshire law further states that the voting booths and ballot box "shall be in plain view of those outside the guardrail," N.H. Rev. Stat. § 658:9(II), and the New Hampshire Secretary of State's Election Procedures Manual (pdf) indicates that "[t]ownspeople, town officials, the media and others often congregate in the public area outside the rail to observe the voting process, discuss current events and socialize." (Page 120.) The Manual goes further to state that "[t]hese practices are not prohibited by law, but the moderator has a responsibility to ensure that these activities do not have the effect of electioneering or of discouraging voting." No specific mention is made to use of cameras, so call your local precinct before election day to see if they will allow cameras.

Even if you are allowed to record, try to avoid interacting with those waiting to vote, and do not attempt to document how any particular person has voted. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:37 states that no person shall "interfere or attempt to interfere with any voter when such voter is in the space within the guardrail or endeavor to induce any voter before voting to show how he marks or has marked his ballot." 

Photography Outside the Polling Place

The Secretary of State's Election Procedures Manual (pdf) says the following concerning the practice of exit polling (at page 58):

No one can obstruct voters as they enter or exit the polling place, and no one can electioneer within the polling place. Otherwise, there are no specific restrictions on exit polling. The same limits should be placed on persons taking exit polls, girl scouts selling cookies, the flower club bake sale, or any non-election activity that is allowed at the building where voting takes place. The best practice is to require anyone involved in any of these activities to set up outside the railed-in area and outside the usual and customary path into and out of the polling place. Where an adjacent room is available, that is an ideal place for such activities.

New Hampshire law also places specific prohibitions on electioneering by candidates and persons who are "representing or working for a candidate." N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:43. The statute prohibits such activity "within a corridor 10 feet wide and extending a distance from the entrance door of the building," but the attorney general's office has stated previously that "[a]s a practical matter, this Office construes [this statute] to generally provide moderators with broad discretion to designate the no electioneering zone beyond the ten-foot wide minimum corridor."

Towns are also empowered to make bylaws further restricting electioneering activity. N.H. Rev. Stat. § 31:41-C. Check with your own town before planning to report from around the polling place.

Recording Your Own Ballot

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 659:35 states that "[n]o voter shall allow his ballot to be seen by any person with the intention of letting it be known how he is about to vote . . . ." (Emphasis added.) It is unclear whether New Hampshire courts would apply this prohibition to disclosures made after the ballot has been cast.


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