Many New Hampshire town clerks were relieved two years ago when the Senate sustained Gov. John Lynch’s veto of a controversial photo ID bill.
Some called the proposal “a nightmare” and said they were nervous about it becoming law. It wasn’t because voters would have to present an ID at the polls, but because those without identification could cast a provisional ballot.
But they had to return with identification within two and a half days. Town clerks said that would have created confusion and delayed election results — and they would be left dealing with the aftermath.
Last year, what the town clerks feared most became a reality.
New photo ID legislation — intended to prevent voter fraud at the polls — was introduced. The compromise bill that became law called for the photo ID requirement to begin during last fall’s presidential election.
It also required election officials to stop and photograph any voter without an ID, but not until elections after Sept. 1, 2013.
Near-record turnout at polls in November caused the kind of confusion many clerks dreaded for more than a year.
There were long lines and lots of questions as voters were asked to present IDs and many people were registering to vote for the first time. It followed a test run during the state primary in September when poll workers explained the new law to voters and told them what to expect in November.
But after town elections two weeks ago, Southern New Hampshire officials said they experienced no major problems. Most voters seemed to have adjusted to the new law, they said.
Though some voters still seemed confused in Newton, according to Town Clerk Mary-Jo McCullough. The voters had heard lawmakers were trying to repeal the photo ID law, so they weren’t sure if it was still in effect, McCullough said.