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28Oct

New Hampshire Push Poll Law

New Hampshire law restricts political advocacy telephone calls, which it calls "push-polling." Thanks to a reform (S.B. 196) signed into law on April 23, 2014, the Granite State specifically excludes survey and opinion research. The reforms came into effect on July 28, 2014.

Title LXIII, Section 664:16-a requires that anyone engaged in "push-polling" shall, "prior to asking any person contacted a question relating to a candidate":
(a) Inform the person that the telephone call is a "paid political advertisement;'' and
(b) Identify the organization making the call and the organization paying for the call; and
(c) Provide a valid, current, publicly-listed telephone number for the organization making the call; and
(d) Identify that the telephone call is being made on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to a particular candidate or candidates for public office and identify that candidate or candidates by name.

Violations of the "push-polling" provision (considered a misdemeanor if committed by an individual, or a felony if by an organization) "shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000." A court, "upon petition of the attorney general (AG), may levy upon any person who violates" the push-polling statute "a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $1,000 per violation" and payable "to the secretary of state for deposit into the general fund." The AG "shall have authority to notify suspected violators... of the state's intention to seek a civil penalty, to negotiate, and to settle with such suspected violators without court action, provided any civil penalty paid as settlement shall be paid to the secretary of state for deposit into the general fund."

Title LXIII, Section 664:2 (XVII and XVIII) defines "push-polling" as:

(a) Calling voters on behalf of, in support of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office by telephone; and
(b) Asking questions related to opposing candidates for public office which state, imply, or convey information about the candidates character, status, or political stance or record; and
(c) Conducting such calling in a manner which is likely to be construed by the voter to be a survey or poll to gather statistical data for entities or organizations which are acting independent of any particular political party, candidate, or interest group as part of a series of like telephone calls that consist of more than 2,000 connected calls that last less than 2 minutes in presidential, gubernatorial, United States senatorial, or United States congressional elections; or conducting such calling as part of a series of like telephone calls that consist of more than 500 connected calls that last less than 2 minutes in executive council, state senate, city, town, school district, or village district elections; or conducting such calling as part of a series of like telephone calls that consist of more than 200 connected calls that last less than 2 minutes in state representative elections; and
(d) Conducting such calling for purposes other than bona fide survey and opinion research.

And it defines "bona fide survey and opinion research'' as:

the collection and analysis of data regarding opinions, needs, awareness, knowledge, views, experiences, and behaviors of a population, through the development and administration of surveys, interviews, focus groups, polls, observation, or other research methodologies, in which no sales, promotional, or marketing efforts are involved, and through which there is no attempt to influence a participant's attitudes or behavior. Bona fide survey and opinion research includes message testing, which is the study for research purposes of how randomly-selected individuals react to positive or negative information on a candidate, elected public official, or ballot question.

The conduct of genuine research in New Hampshire thus does not require the extensive disclosures in Section 664:16-a.

This information is not intended and should not be construed as or substituted for legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. It is advisable to consult with private counsel on the precise scope and interpretation of any laws/regulation/legislation and their impact on your particular business.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.

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