CONCORD (AP) — Voters would have to produce a government-issued photo identification to vote in New Hampshire under a Republican-backed bill passed yesterday by the House.
The 243-111 vote sent the bill back to the Senate to review changes the House made to the Senate's bill.
The bill proposes requiring voters without proper photo identification to cast a provisional ballot and gives them three days to produce a valid photo ID.
It also calls for the state to issue voters a photo ID card for free. The House version also would allow voters to get a waiver of the photo ID requirement from the secretary of state.
The Senate version allowed election officials to take a person's picture for their file.
It also recognizes photo IDs issued by licensed schools and some businesses and institutions.
Supporters argue the bill will prevent fraud.
Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, said voters need to believe government is protecting their rights.
"What about my constitutional right and your constitutional right to be ensured that only those qualified to vote are in fact voting," he said.
Opponents say it infringes on individual rights.
Rep. David Pierce, D-Hanover, argued Republicans are trying to fix a problem that does not exist. He likened it to his 7-year-old daughter's fear of the bogeyman being under her bed.
He put a ruffle around the bottom of the bed and told her the bogeyman couldn't get out.
"That's all this bill does," he said.
"We shouldn't legislate to fight the bogeyman. We shouldn't legislate to fight something that's not there."
But Election Law Chairman David Bates, R-Windham, said asking for a photo ID is reasonable, especially since voters without one can vote provisionally, get a free state ID and return within three days to have the vote counted.
"We must make sure no one votes who is not qualified to vote," he said.
House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli said the bill places unnecessary obstacles to voting.
"It should not be more difficult to exercise your right to vote than it is to carry a weapon," she said in reference to a bill that passed the House in March that eliminates the requirement to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon.
The bill's fate is uncertain in the Senate.
Gov. John Lynch has vetoed past photo ID bills.
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