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Who’s voting?
Voter ID bill raises interest

06/02/11



On the one hand, it probably seems somewhat trivial to some folks that you’d have to display photo identification when you go to the polls to cast your vote.

It would, theoretically, prevent voter fraud. It wouldn’t presumably be all that inconvenient for people to have their identification on them when they go to vote. It would help eliminate the possibility that someone could pretend to be someone else when they voted. Everyone would probably agree that working to eliminate that possibility is a good thing.

The House passed a bill earlier this month that would make it mandatory that New Hampshire voters present a photo ID when they vote.

But on the other hand, others could say it makes it more difficult for folks without identification to vote. Not everyone does have identification, and no one wants to make it more difficult for someone to become engaged enough to cast a vote. Apparently, there are thousands of people in the state without identification. The Secretary of State reportedly estimated between 50,000 and 75,000 residents don’t have photo identification.

And apparently voter fraud just isn’t that big a deal in the Granite State — so say Democrats.

The measure, Senate Bill 129, has got a lot of folks up in arms. Terie Norelli, House Democratic Leader, told the Concord Monitor it shouldn’t be more difficult to vote than it is to carry a weapon. She was referring to pending GOP bills that would let people carry a gun, open or concealed, without a license.

Liz Tentarelli and Sally Davis, co-presidents of the New Hampshire League of Women Voters, wrote in the Telegraph earlier this month that the law “casts suspicion on the integrity of every New Hampshire citizen and it’s very likely to raise questions about New Hampshire’s standing to hold the first-in-the-nation primary.”

Those are strong words, particularly with regard to the primary.

Manchester aldermen, along with Republican Mayor Ted Gatsas, called on the state legislature to kill the voter ID bill.
The Senate initially passed the bill to require photo ID, and the House added to the legislation by allowing voters without identification to fill out a provisional ballot that they’d have to take to their town clerk’s office within three days for verification. Supporters say that provision more or less covers the whole accessibility issue. If they can fill out a provisional ballot, then all is well, they say.

Republicans talk about how it’s important to make sure that only qualified people can vote. Democrats point to a lack of voter fraud instances in the state to suggest there’s no problem here that needs solving.

Under the provision, Bates said, voters without valid ID could obtain a non-driver photo ID free from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The law would take effect in November 2012. There would be costs to implement the law, however. A Concord Monitor article reported it could cost $1 million to implement the law.

It’s interesting that a Republican legislature hell-bent on reining in government spending would be interested in implementing a measure that would cost money.

Maybe what has ramped up the intensity on this bill was that during a special election for state representative last week in New Boston, one polling place displayed a sign saying people needed to show identification to vote. A little presumptive of someone ― it’s a little unclear who ― since the measure hasn’t been passed yet. Democrats say registered voters were discouraged from voting. Now, the Democrat won handily in the particular special election, so maybe all is well in New Boston.

But it certainly got people’s attention.
 






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