The Libertarian Party of New Hampshire is planning to file a lawsuit against the state to seek ballot access after struggling to collect petition signatures during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Last month, the party sent a letter to Secretary of State Bill Gardner asking that the requirement to gather more than 3,000 signatures be waived. In a press release issued Sunday, the party said the request was passed on to the governor’s legal council, but no action has been taken.

“When the [secretary of state and attorney general] issued guidance to expand absentee voting, the release said ‘voters shouldn’t have to choose between health and [their] right to vote’,” points out Darryl Perry, Libertarian candidate for governor. “However, unless petitioning requirements are suspended, our state officials are requiring minor party and independent candidates to choose between health and their constitutional right to be a candidate.”

Sunday’s news release says the party has brought similar suits in other states, such as Illinois, where Libertarians recently won a case related to ballot access during the pandemic.

In the past, the party said it hasn’t had problems collecting the number of signatures required for a candidate to appear on the ballot, but efforts have been halted this year in order to observe social-distancing practices.

Usually, nominating papers must be submitted by Aug. 5 to the supervisors of the checklists in the municipalities of the voters who sign the petition, then delivered to the Secretary of State’s Office by Sept. 2, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said last month.

“After multiple calls, a formal written request, and several more calls, I am at the point where I begin to believe that the governor’s office likes to talk about being here for the people of N.H., but maybe they only mean a select group of those people,” said Libertarian Party of New Hampshire Secretary Jilletta Jarvis. “If you are Independent, Libertarian, Green, Constitutionalist, maybe you just count a little bit less to them.”

The Sentinel reached out to the N.H. Secretary of State’s office for comment. No response was received by press time.

Mia Summerson can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1435, or Follow her on Twitter @MiaSummerson