Combat voter ID law with education
Jack Saunders has the right idea. Saunders, who lives in Holderness, is the author of a letter to the editor published in the Sunday Monitor. He suggested that one good way to combat the cynical intent behind New Hampshire's new voter ID law is to educate people about it so they're not surprised or frustrated on Election Day.
The law, passed this spring by the New Hampshire Legislature, will eventually require most residents to show photo identification before they're allowed to vote in elections. Assuming the law is upheld by the U.S. Justice Department, which reviews all changes to New Hampshire election laws, the rules will be phased in over the next several elections. Here are answers to some basic questions, supplied by the secretary of state and the New Hampshire League of Women Voters:
• What will happen during the Sept. 11 primary election?
Registered voters will not be required to show a photo ID to get a ballot. Ballot clerks will request a photo ID and offer a handout explaining the future requirements to anyone who does not show one.
• What will happen during the Nov. 6 general election?
Voters will have two options for obtaining a ballot at the polls. They can show a valid photo ID. Or they can sign an affidavit testifying to their identity.
• What counts as a valid photo ID on Nov. 6?
The list includes: a driver's license from any state; a non-driver's photo ID issued by New Hampshire; an armed services identification card; a U.S. passport; any other valid photo ID from the federal, state, county or municipal government; a valid student ID card; a photo ID deemed acceptable by the moderator, supervisor of the checklist or town clerk; verification of a person's identity by the moderator, supervisor of the checklist or town clerk.
• Does that list change after Nov. 6?
Yes. Notably, effective Sept. 1, 2013, student ID cards will no longer be accepted as valid identification.
• What happens if you use an affidavit on Nov. 6?
You will receive a letter from the secretary of state after the election, requesting that you confirm that you voted. The letter will include instructions about how to obtain a free, state-issued voter photo ID. Voters who don't respond in 90 days will be contacted by the attorney general's office and requested to confirm that they voted.
• What about people who vote by absentee ballot?
Voting by absentee ballot does not require a voter ID.
• Where do you register?
You can sign up with your town clerk before Election Day. You can also sign up with the supervisors of the checklist, who meet on the Saturday 10 days before each election. And you can sign up at your polling place on Election Day.
• Are there deadlines to register to vote?
Sept. 4 is the last day to register in advance of the state primary election, but you may also register at the polls on Election Day. Oct. 27 is the last day to register in advance of the general election, but you may also register at the polls on Election Day, Nov. 6.
• If you haven't voted at your polling place before, what do you need to bring to register?
The registration form asks for your name, age, place of birth, local residence, previous voting address and a driver's license ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number. You'll also be asked to sign a statement saying you understand voting fraud is a crime. And you'll be asked to show proof of ID, age, citizenship and domicile.
Bring a driver's license, passport, student ID or other photo ID and mail, such as a utility bill, addressed to you. If you don't have such documents, you may sign affidavits stating your identity, age, citizenship and domicile.
• What if you can't register in person?
You may register by mail. Ask your town clerk for an absentee voter registration affidavit and a standard ballot. The ballot must reach the town or city clerk via mail - not fax - by 5 p.m. of Election Day.
• Do you have to register with a political party?
You can register as an undeclared voter or choose a political party.
If you choose a party, you vote in that party's primary elections. The deadline for changing from one party to another was in June. If you register as undeclared, you can choose a party primary to participate in at the polls on Election Day. You can return to your undeclared status before you leave the polling place.