EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 6, 2013

ID verification notices going out to NH voters


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire voters who failed to show photo identification at the polls in November have 90 days to return confirmation postcards to the state. In the meantime, Democratic lawmakers already are working on legislation to repeal or alter the new law that created the photo ID requirement.

Under the law passed last year, registered voters must show photo identification before obtaining a ballot. For the November election, a wide range of identification was accepted, including student IDs. But going forward, only driver’s licenses, state-issued non-driver’s identification cards, passports or military IDs will be allowed.

Those who do not have photo identification with them or choose not to show IDs can still vote after filling out affidavits attesting to their identities. The secretary of state’s office had until Friday to send notices to the roughly 7,000 voters who submitted affidavits, and the attorney general’s office will investigate anyone who does not return the postage-paid confirmation card within 90 days.

But those requirements could be gone by the next election in 2014. Democrats, who won control of the House in November, plan to file bills targeting both voter identification and registration.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, and several co-sponsors are proposing eliminating the photo identification requirements. He said he wants to return to the way things were before Republicans last year “tried to improve it to death,” and said stricter voter verification laws aren’t necessary. Supporters of photo ID laws argue that they are necessary to prevent fraud.

“There’s actually very little evidence of any type of voter impersonation,” Horrigan said.

Other lawmakers don’t want to go that far and are proposing bills that would retain some elements of the photo ID bill. Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, said while she personally opposes any photo identification requirement, she plans to introduce legislation that would eliminate the next phase of the current law, the narrowing of acceptable forms of identification.

“It could be a decent compromise between those who think photo ID is an intrusion and those who want to verify who’s voting,” she said.

That is the approach favored last year by the state Senate, which remains controlled by Republicans.

Weber said she hopes her bill also will be a conversation starter about other changes that may be necessary. The new requirements didn’t cause as much delay or trouble at the polls as she expected, she said, but it still remains to be seen how much work and expense is involved in investigating anyone who doesn’t return the verification postcards.

In addition to the voter identification law, Democrats also plan to try to repeal changes to the state’s voter registration forms, even though the most controversial section of the form was put on hold after a court challenge by out-of-state college students, who traditionally have been allowed to vote in the state without holding legal residency.

Had it taken effect, new voters would have been required to sign a statement saying they declare New Hampshire their home and are subject to laws that apply to all residents, including laws requiring drivers to register cars and get a New Hampshire driver’s license. The statement wouldn’t specifically require students to be residents but would have made them subject to hundreds of laws involving residency.