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Protecting the Right to Vote: It's All Up to the State Senate Now

The NH State Senate has the choice - protect voting rights or continue the attack on students and the elderly.

Last year, our Legislature adopted . The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire opposed the law, and still
does.

Phase one allowed a variety of photo IDs for voting and let election officials excuse certain voters without an ID from signing an affidavit to get a ballot.

Phase two starts in September. IDs no longer accepted include old, expired photo IDs, student, business or institutional IDs, federal, state or county IDs unless
they are driver or non-driver licenses, any other ID deemed acceptable by an
election officer or personal recognition by an election officer. The only
common ID accepted will be a recent or current driver's license. The others are
a state-issued non-driver's photo ID, passport or military ID.

Voters without an ID will have their picture taken, printed and attached to an
affidavit which they must sign in order to get a ballot. Cameras, printers and
maintenance will cost the state about $208,236 over the next four years. Total
four-year municipal costs for extra election workers will be about $336,000.

Here's what we've learned about the photo ID law so far:

Last September's primaries were chaotic because election officials and voters had so little information about the law. Voting advocates were flooded with calls for
help which were passed on to the Attorney General. Volunteers greatly increased
voter education efforts before the Presidential election, and pressured the
state to do the same.

In November, most voters who went to the polls were able to produce an accepted ID. Still, it took voters who were prepared with an ID 60% longer to vote in 2012 than in 2008. Registration lines were also long but for other reasons.

Voter turnout decreased in N.H. although it increased in the rest of the country.
More than 295,000 eligible N.H. citizens didn't vote.

This month, the U.S. Census reported that 44% of 18-to-24-year-old voters were unsure of the photo ID law in their state and 61% of them were unsure of registration requirements in their state before the Presidential election. Their voter turnout declined more than 7% between 2008 and 2012 (48.5% to 41.2%).

No record was kept of what type of IDs voters used last fall but election
officials, senior citizen advocates and the DMV report the elderly were the
most worried about the law and uncomfortable with the affidavit process.

Over 5,600 voters signed affidavits to vote because they didn't have a phase one ID. Those voters received a follow-up letter from the Secretary of State at a cost
of $16,827. Undelivered letters (355) and unanswered letters (1,343) are now
being investigated by the Attorney General at an estimated attorney and staff
cost of $618,072.

The House has passed HB595, a bill to repeal all the phase two provisions and keep last November's voter ID law in place.

Election officials, voting advocates and Representatives from both parties offered
detailed testimony against the phase two provisions in an hours-long Senate
hearing. Not one person spoke in favor of phase two. The hearing committee file
doesn't contain a single email or letter supporting phase two. Some testified
in support of other voting or registration provisions but none supported phase
two of the photo ID law.

Despite this unanimous opposition, the Senate will vote on Sen. Boutin's amended HB595 which only delays phase two until just before the Presidential primaries, and immediately excludes student IDs.

It's up to the Senate. They can continue attacking student and senior citizen voters or take a step towards protecting everyone's right to vote by supporting the original HB595.

Liz Tentarelli, co-president, Joan Flood Ashwell, election law specialist, The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Steve From NH May 22, 2013 at 12:16 PM
The weakest administration ever? Are you serious? Please look at where they started, and how far we've come. You want real screwups, look to the ideologically pure, functionally incompetent administration of GWB, the original State Ship of Fools. I'll take an IRS scandal over trillions of $$ wasted and tens of thousands of lives lost or ruined in a useless, mismanaged war or two any day.
Steve From NH May 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Morons? Like maybe a homeless Vet who doesn't have a car, can't feed his family, no way to get to the camera, or do you mean the people who work at multiple jobs scraping by, can't get time off from work (hey some of them work for idiots like that guy in Florida who told his workers that if Obama won he would have to fire half of them, while he's putting the finishing touches on his 50 million dallor house) - do you mean those morons? Maybe you should think before you press the enter key.
Steve From NH May 22, 2013 at 12:21 PM
>get a drink, to buy a home, to get a mortgage, to get a driver's license, to make a bank transaction and a host of other everyday actions Which a lot of people can't do, many due to circumstances beyond their control. EVERYONE should be able to vote.
Apljak May 22, 2013 at 12:55 PM
Yes, things have gotten worse even with a Trillion dollar annual stimulus that has continued every year with this administration!! So ridiculous that you are still trying to blame W. Who cares about an IRS scandal? Hard working taxpayers! Who doesn't care? Those on the teat who probably don't pay any taxes, iun fact, they get EIC or some other handout from the government!!
Apljak May 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM
Hope you are comfy wrapped up so tightly in that American flag. If they can't find time to smile and say cheese, how can they find time to actually go vote??

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