January 7, 2016
Sumner, self-represented party, by brief.
A. Foster, attorney general ( Stephen G. LaBonte, assistant
attorney general, on the brief), for the defendant.
plaintiff, Deborah Sumner, appeals an order of the Superior
Court ( Kissinger, J.) upholding the denial, by the
defendant, the New Hampshire Secretary of State, of her
Right-to-Know Law request, and granting the defendant's
motion for summary judgment. Sumner sought to inspect ballots
cast in the town of Jaffrey during the 2012 general election.
The defendant denied her request, citing RSA 659:95, II
(Supp. 2015), which exempts ballots which have been cast from
the Right-to-Know Law. On appeal, Sumner argues that RSA
659:95, II, along with RSA 660:16, II (2008) and RSA 669:33,
II (2008) (collectively, " the ballot exemption
statutes" ), violate several articles of the New
Hampshire Constitution. We hold that the ballot exemption
statutes do not violate our State constitution, and,
therefore, we affirm.
record supports the following facts. Sumner asked to inspect
the Jaffrey ballots " [t]o determine why 71 ballots ...
contained over votes, therefore invaliding votes of 71
individuals," and to research " how ... ballots can
be traced to a voter." When the defendant denied her
request, Sumner sued in superior court, requesting, among
other things, an order allowing her to review the Jaffrey
ballots and a declaratory judgment that the ballot exemption
statutes are unconstitutional. She then moved separately for
permission " to review [the] ballots as outlined in her
complaint," which the trial court denied. The defendant
moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.
This appeal followed.
When reviewing a trial court's grant of summary judgment,
we consider the affidavits and other evidence, and inferences
properly drawn from them, in the light most favorable to the
non-moving party." Sabinson v. Trustees of
College, 160 N.H. 452, 455, 999 A.2d 380 (2010).
" If this review does not reveal any genuine issues of
material fact, i.e., facts that would affect the
outcome of the litigation, and if the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law, we will
first argues that the ballot exemption statutes violate Part
I, Articles 1, 2, 7, 8, 10, 11, and 22 of the New Hampshire
Constitution. We read Sumner's brief to focus primarily
upon Part I, Article 8, which states that " the
public's right of access to governmental proceedings and
records shall not be unreasonably restricted." N.H.
Const. pt. I, art. 8. According to Sumner, " there is no
legitimate privacy reason to exempt ballots from public