New Hampshire legislature embroiled in voting debate

The New Hampshire House and Senate have just reached a compromise on a proposed voter ID law, following disagreements over the implementation timeline and specific forms of ID.

The compromise combines the Senate’s version of the bill (SB 289) with the House amendments. SB 289 will serve in transition during the upcoming primary and general elections. The House version will take effect on September 1, 2013.

SB 289 allows those unable to provide ID to sign an affidavit. ID photographs would be taken at the polls, and student IDs would be accepted. The House affidavit option requires a signature from an election official. Only a driver’s license, non-driver’s license, Armed Services identification card, or passport will be accepted.

A vote on the compromise is expected next week.

Governor John Lynch vetoed a voter ID bill last year, opposing a similar limitation on ID forms, but he has stated that he might revisit the issue. The New Hampshire City and Town Clerks Association has opposed the House version, saying that "it will increase waiting time at the polls and (produce) a greater burden on elected officials and clerks."

The House and Senate have also locked horns over voter registration. SB 318 would alter residency requirements and make other voter registration changes that could have a profound impact, especially among the student population. Its lead sponsor, Senator Sharon Carson, is an ALEC member who also supports SB 289.

Opposition is strong:

This bill has several serious flaws. The proposed voter registration form includes references to motor vehicle laws. There was no explanation by the committee as to the reason for inserting only motor vehicle laws instead of all N.H. state laws such as tax laws, etc. The definition of domicile on the new proposed voter application form is different than the definition domicile affidavit form.

All eyes remain on the conference committee, which has yet to make a decision on the bill’s status.

For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.

PFAW Foundation