The office of New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella issued a cease-and-desist order to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Monday after the committee purportedly violated the state’s voter suppression laws.
On Jan. 5, the co-chairs of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee submitted a letter to the New Hampshire Democratic Party (NHDP) demanding the state party comply with DNC guidance to “take steps to educate the public that January 23rd” — the date set for the jurisdiction’s Democrat presidential primary — “is a non-binding presidential preference event and is meaningless and the NHDP and presidential candidates should take all steps possible not to participate.”
The memo came nearly a year after the DNC passed a new early presidential primary calendar for 2024. The updated calendar, supported by President Biden, sought to make South Carolina the first state on the Democrat presidential primary schedule. While Iowa and New Hampshire, respectively, have historically marked the first electoral contests in the presidential primary process for both major political parties, the DNC’s decision to schedule South Carolina first was, as NBC News described, due to Iowa’s caucuses being viewed as “too white and too undemocratic.”
Despite state law mandating New Hampshire host a presidential primary “7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election,” the DNC told the NHDP that the Jan. 23 primary scheduled by the New Hampshire secretary of state “cannot be used as the first determining stage of the state’s delegate selection process and is considered detrimental.” The guidance further informed the state party that no “delegates or alternates shall be apportioned” and no “scheduling of events related to the selection of delegates or alternates in New Hampshire may be” based on the Jan. 23 election.
In his cease-and-desist order to the DNC, Assistant Attorney General Brendan O’Donnell underscored how “[f]alsely telling New Hampshire voters that a New Hampshire election is ‘meaningless’ violates New Hampshire voter suppression laws,” and further ordered the organization to stop engaging in such “unlawful” conduct.
“Regardless of whether the DNC refuses to award delegates to the party’s national convention based on the results of the January 23, 2024, New Hampshire [D]emocratic Presidential Primary Election, that election is not ‘meaningless.’ Your statements to the contrary are false, deceptive, and misleading,” O’Donnell wrote. “Telling the public or any person qualified to register to vote or vote in New Hampshire that the [aforementioned election] is ‘meaningless,’ or soliciting NHDP or any other party to make such statements, constitutes an attempt to prevent or deter another person from voting or registering to vote based on fraudulent, deceptive, misleading, or spurious grounds or information.”
O’Donnell further warned the DNC that he reserved the right to pursue further legal action.
It’s worth mentioning that the DNC’s decision to hold South Carolina’s primary before the party’s Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary is designed to benefit Biden. During the 2020 Democrat presidential primary cycle, the Delaware Democrat lost both Iowa and New Hampshire, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. It was his dominating victory in South Carolina’s primary that put Biden on track to become Democrats’ 2020 presidential nominee.