I. Filing a Complaint
a. Anyone may report alleged violations of State or Federal election laws subject to enforcement by the Attorney General by submitting a completed Election Law Complaint Form.
b. The Election Law Complaint Form shall:
(1) Be written legibly and signed by the complainant;
(a) If the complaint relates to a violation of a right established by Title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the complaint must be sworn to by the complainant in front of a Notary Public or Justice of the Peace.
(b) The Attorney General's Office and the Secretary of State's Office will provide Notary Public or Justice of the Peace services for an Election Law Complaint Form free of charge. Town Clerks, City Clerks, and other public officials who are Notaries Public or Justices of the Peace are encouraged to provide their services free of charge for the purpose of filing an Election Law Complaint Form.
(2) Contain a statement that an election official, a town/city/village district, a candidate, a political committee, an individual, or a corporation has violated a State election law or Federal election law subject to enforcement by the Attorney General and, if known, the requirement, statute, or regulation that has been violated;
(3) Contain a statement of the facts on which the complaint is based;
(4) Allege a violation that occurred not more than one year prior to the date the complaint is being submitted, unless a longer period is reasonable because the violation is continuing; and
(5) Identify by name, address, and phone number any known witnesses or other victims.
c. Any written communication satisfying the requirements set forth above shall constitute a complaint for the purposes of these procedures.
d. Complaints shall be mailed, faxed, or delivered to:
33 Capital Street
Concord, NH 03301
Complaints shall be considered filed on the date that they are received at the Attorney General's Office.
a. The Attorney General or his designee will evaluate each complaint.
(1) If the complaint does not state a violation of any State or Federal election law subject to enforcement by the Attorney General, the complainant and the subject(s) of the complaint shall be notified in writing.
(2) If the complaint alleges a violation of any State or Federal election law subject to enforcement by the Attorney General, an inquiry shall be initiated.
b. Unless the nature of the allegation makes doing so inappropriate, an initial step in the inquiry will be to notify the subject of the complaint and afford the subject an opportunity to provide a response to the complaint.
c. The Attorney General's Office will publicly neither confirm nor deny the receipt of a complaint nor the existence of an investigation, unless doing so is deemed necessary to gather information or alert the public to a preventable hazard.
d. If the subject of the complaint elects to provide a response, upon receipt of the response, the complaint and response will be evaluated to determine if an investigation is necessary to resolve the complaint.
e. Complaints shall be resolved in one of the following ways:
(1) Criminal Prosecution – If a criminal penalty exists for the election law violation and the evidence and circumstances warrant criminal prosecution, the Attorney General, directly or through a County Attorney or Police Prosecutor, will prosecute the alleged offender.
(2) Civil Prosecution – If a civil penalty exists for the election law violation and the evidence and circumstances warrant imposition of a civil penalty, the Attorney General will pursue imposition of a civil penalty in accordance with applicable law.
(3) Cease and Desist Order – If the election law authorizes the Attorney General to issue a Cease and Desist Order and the evidence and circumstances warrant issuance of a Cease and Desist Order, the Attorney General will pursue issuance of a Cease and Desist Order in accordance with applicable law.
(4) Written Warning – If the election law does not provide for any penalty or if the evidence and circumstances support a conclusion that wrongdoing occurred, but the evidence and circumstances do not support or warrant a criminal prosecution, a civil penalty, or a cease and desist order, the Attorney General will issue a written warning if warranted.
(5) Closure Letter with Recommendations – If the evidence and circumstances do not warrant any of the above actions, but the Attorney General concludes that the subjects of the complaint failed to follow recommendations issued by the Secretary of State or the Attorney General or recognized best practices, the Attorney General may issue a Closure Letter to the subject of the complaint with recommendations for best practices.
(6) Closure Letter, Complaint Unfounded – If the evidence and circumstances support the conclusion that the subject of the complaint did not violate any election laws and followed the published recommendations of the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, the Attorney General will issue a Closure Letter declaring the complaint unfounded.
f. If the complaint involves a violation of a right established by Title III of the Help America Vote Act and the Attorney General determines that the complaint will be resolved by a criminal prosecution or civil penalty, the complainant shall be notified and afforded an opportunity to attend any public court sessions held to resolve the complaint.
g. If the complaint involves a violation of a right established by Title III of the Help America Vote Act and the Attorney General determines that the complaint will be resolved by a Cease and Desist Order, a Written Warning, Closure Letter with Recommendations or Closure Letter Complaint Unfounded, the complainant shall be issued a copy of the closure letter.
h. The complainant and the subject of the complaint shall have a right to request a hearing on the record before a hearing officer appointed by the Attorney General. The purpose of the hearing will be to afford the complainant, the subject, and the Assistant Attorney General who handled the matter to present evidence and arguments supporting resolution or arguing for an alternative resolution.
III. Hearing Process
a. Notice – The complainant or the subject of the complaint must file a written notice challenging the resolution with the Attorney General within 30 days of the date on which the documents announcing the resolution of the complaint are issued.
b. The Attorney General shall appoint a hearing officer who shall be a senior member of the Attorney General's Office who was not previously involved in any way in the investigation of the complaint, or a private attorney.
c. The Hearing Officer shall schedule a hearing within 30 days of the receipt by the Attorney General's Office of the written request for a hearing.
d. The Hearing Officer shall issue a notice of hearing that includes:
(1) Parties names and addresses;
(2) Date, time, and location of hearing;
(3) Statute(s) in question;
(4) A copy of the Cease and Desist Order, Written Warning, Closure letter with Recommendations or Closure letter concluding the matter was unfounded;
(5) A copy of the notice filed challenging the resolution;
(6) The consequence for failure to appear at the hearing as prescribed below; and
(7) The right of the parties to be represented by counsel at the hearing at their own expense.
e. The Hearing Officer shall issue a recommendation to the Attorney General either proposing a different resolution or affirming the previously issued resolution.
f. Hearing Record
(1) The Attorney General shall cause the hearing to be recorded verbatim, and the recordings shall become part of the record.
(2) The Hearing Officer shall include in the record any documents submitted, and accepted as relevant, by the parties during the hearing
g. Procedural Rules – The hearing shall be conducted in conformance with Administrative Rules Chapter JUS 800.
h. Burden – Unless otherwise specified by law, the burden of proof shall be on the party challenging the original resolution.
i. Adjournment, Postponement, or Continuance – Adjournment, postponement, or continuance shall be directed, granted, or ordered for good cause shown, which shall include prejudice due to the inability of counsel or a critical witness to attend unless such inability is due to action or inaction on the part of the party. Notice of adjournment, postponement, or continuance shall be sent to all affected parties.
j. Failure to Request Continuance or Postponement, or to Appear – Failure to appear at any scheduled hearing, or to request for good cause a postponement or continuance of the hearing in advance thereof, shall be deemed to be a withdrawal of the complaint or waiver of right to be heard, as the case may be, and the challenge shall be closed, dismissed or a decision rendered.
k. Resolutions of complaints shall be made no later than 90 days from the receipt of the complaint (as required by 42 U.S.C. §15512(a)(2)(H)), unless the complainant has agreed to an extension.
(1) If the complaint is not resolved in 90 days, upon receipt of a written request from the complaint the matter shall be submitted to the Ballot Law Commission.
IV. Complaint Form
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301