Why 2 questions on the New Hampshire ballot may stump some voters

When New Hampshire voters hit the polls on Tuesday, there will be two questions on the ballot...
When New Hampshire voters hit the polls on Tuesday, there will be two questions on the ballot that may leave some people scratching their heads.(WCAX)
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:52 PM EST
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - When New Hampshire voters hit the polls on Tuesday, there will be two questions on the ballot that may leave some people scratching their heads.

The two questions will appear along with the list of candidates in all the races.

The first question is in regard to a constitutional amendment proposed by New Hampshire lawmakers. The language is wordy and confusing, but the gist is that voters are being asked whether the state Constitution should do away with references to the Register of Probate. That’s an elected county position, but the duties of the Register of Probate-- which largely dealt with litigation surrounding wills-- were transferred to the court clerk’s office in 2011. So even though each county has a Register of Probate, there is nothing for them to do.

But experts, including Plymouth State University Politics Professor John Lappie, say the question will likely give voters pause.

“You don’t have the original language, it doesn’t have a summary that says, ‘Hey, this is just getting rid of the office of Register of Probate.’ It just has the amended text. So, unless you have encyclopedic knowledge of the state Constitution, which nobody does, you would not realize that this is getting rid of the Register of Probate,” Lappie said.

Lappie says because of that, it is possible voters could mark “no” simply because they don’t understand the ballot question.

Two-thirds of voters will need to say yes to officially remove the Register of Probate position from the New Hampshire Constitution.

The second question asks voters whether a convention should be held to amend the state Constitution. The state is required to pose this question to voters every 10 years.

Lappie says he’s not aware of any concerted effort or issue that would require a convention.