N.H. legislature passes voter ID compromise

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June 27, 2013

New Hampshire

By Phil Sletten

CONCORD, New Hampshire: The New Hampshire General Court passed compromise legislation that would amend the current laws regarding voter identification at the polls. The laws, which have new, stringent provisions slated to go into effect this year, were passed during the 2011-2012 legislative session and championed by the Republican supermajorities in control of the legislature at that time. This compromise, which observers expect Governor Maggie Hassan (D) to sign, curbs some of the most stringent and costly components of that legislation.[1]

Current law requires that, starting in September 2013, voters who fail to meet the new requirement of showing a proper photo identification at the polls sign an affidavit and have their photos taken at the polls by municipal workers. Current law also stipulated that, starting in September 2013, student photo identification cards would not be suitable identification. The State House and State Senate both passed compromise legislation that would move the required start date for photographing those without a photo ID to September 2015 and allow student identification, including student photo IDs that have been expired up to five years, to be valid identification. Municipal moderators, town clerks, and checklist supervisors may also verify a person's identification by sight, or qualify them based on other forms of photo identification.[2][3][4]

Conservative Republicans, including former State Speaker of the House Bill O'Brien (R), were disappointed with the compromise legislation, claiming that the restrictions in current law that have already been enacted are helping to stop fraud. State Senator David Boutin (R) also called the compromise "reasonable" at first, but subsequently withdrew his support.[5][1][6][7] As the deadline for compromise approached, more Republicans became reluctant to support the measure, and some sources suggested a compromise on student IDs would not be reached.[8]

However, Republican senators Bob Odell, Nancy Stiles, and Peter Bragdon joined all 11 Democratic senators to pass the bill in the Senate, and 34 Republicans joined 197 Democrats to pass the bill through the House.[6]

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