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May 14, 2013

N.H. lawmakers divided over Voter ID Law

CONCORD — A split is shaping up between the House and Senate over how — or whether — to proceed with the next phase in the state’s controversial voter photo ID law.

The House refused to repeal the law, but wants to stop the next phase that would force election workers to photograph voters without an acceptable ID.

A Senate committee, meanwhile, is recommending the state delay requiring election workers to take photos until 2015 to see how the law works in the 2014 election.

The Senate panel would reduce the number of acceptable IDs voters could use at the polls. Opponents maintain eliminating a specific reference to student IDs could compromise the rights of student voters.

The full Senate is expected to consider the issue later this month.

“It is still in a state of uncertainty,” Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said.

“The hope of the ACLU is they are able to come to agreement on a bill that does not unfairly target student voters,” NH ACLU executive director Devon Chaffee said.

The debate centers on House Bill 595. It passed the House, 184-122.

The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee moved the bill to the full Senate, 3-2.

Chaffee said the Senate panel also would limit the time older voters could use expired driver licenses as an ID to five years past expiration.

“We’ll see what the whole Senate does going forward,” she said.

Last year, New Hampshire required voters to either present a valid photo ID or sign an affidavit swearing to their identity.

Election officials reported few problems.

Those using an affidavit also were sent postcards by the Secretary of State’s office, requesting they acknowledge they did so.

Scanlan said in those cases, 1,698 postcards either weren’t returned by voters or came back undeliverable.

Chaffee said people can still make a difference in the legislative debate by contacting their senators and representatives.

“They should use their voice,” Chaffee said.

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