CONCORD, N.H. — Presidential candidates who want to be on New Hampshire's primary ballot next year may have to produce a birth certificate under a proposal being brought before a state House committee.
Election Law Chairman David Bates said his committee will consider a bill Wednesday to require candidates to provide a birth certificate and affidavit swearing they are at least 35 years old and have lived in the United States for 14 years, as called for in the U.S. Constitution to qualify for the presidency.
"They need to produce a certified copy of the long form of their birth certificate and an affidavit swearing to residency," the Windham Republican said Tuesday.
New Hampshire holds the earliest presidential primaries and takes pride that its voters help launch contenders toward the White House.
Bates said the purpose of the bill is to ensure that only those truly qualified for the presidency are on the ballot. He emphasized that the measure was not aimed at President Barack Obama, and said he may seek to make the bill effective in 2013 after the next election. If New Hampshire sought to make the requirement effective immediately, "then we'll have a circus," he predicted.
Meanwhile, House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt issued a statement against the measure.
"It is unnecessary and detracts from important business, namely our economy," he said. "Moreover, this potential amendment could represent a threat to our first in the nation primary as it gives other states reason and desire to try to jump us in line."
Obama critics have raised questions about whether he was born in the United States. At least 10 states have proposed legislation seeking more proof before his name is placed on the 2012 presidential election ballot.
Obama was born in Hawaii. But even though Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed his citizenship, his birth certificate has been made public and courts have rebuffed challenges, the issue has not gone away.
Bates said he has been assured that states have procedures to produce birth certificates if the original records have been destroyed or a birth certificate was never issued.
If Bates' committee approves the bill, it then goes to the House for a vote.