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UNH and the New Hampshire Presidential Primary

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In 1949, the N.H. Legislature amended the presidential primary law to allow the names of the presidential and vice presidential candidates on the ballot, thereby permitting the voter to register a direct preference for the choice of the president and vice president.

The legislation also permitted the name of a candidate for president or vice president to be placed on the ballot if the proper number of signatures of registered voters (50 from each of the two congressional districts) were submitted to the secretary of state.

UNH has had a front row seat to presidential politics since 1952, the year that the New Hampshire Primary achieved its current significance. Many major candidates have visited Durham including Gary Hart who attended the Democratic debate held at UNH on Jan. 24, 1988. Hart had dropped out of the presidential race the year before when news of his relationship with Donna Rice surfaced but rejoined the race in December 1987.

The university also hosted the nationally televised Democratic Presidential Primary debate in 2003. And in 2007, the New Hampshire Republican Party partnered with the UNH to present its 2008 presidential debate where candidate Mitt Romney apologized for comparing serving in the military with public service, and Sam Brownback called gay marriage a social experiment.

View Slideshow

Slideshow: Bridget Finnegan, New and Emerging Media. Words: Lori Wright, Media Relations. Images compiled by Stephanie Weatherbee, Photographic Services. Special thanks to Andy Smith, professor of political science. Watch Andy Smith tell the history of the New Hampshire Primary on CSPAN.