N.H. House panel recommends rolling back new voter ID law
A House committee yesterday recommended that legislators roll back, but not fully repeal, New Hampshire’s new voter identification requirement.
The Election Law Committee voted, 11-7, to recommend the House pass a bill that would leave in place the voter ID law as it operated during November’s election, but repeal provisions that will tighten the list of acceptable forms of ID starting this fall.
“I think we still are trying to analyze and get a sense of how well the current law is working, and it would be a mistake to go beyond that until we’ve had an opportunity to do that and make that analysis,” said Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat and the party’s floor leader in the House.
Richardson also said the bill represents “something of a compromise” on the voter ID law, which was enacted last year by a Republican-led Legislature over a gubernatorial veto. Democrats won control of the House in November, but Republicans retain a 13-11 majority in the Senate.
The legislation was endorsed yesterday by 10 Democrats and one Republican, Rep. Dick Marston of Manchester. Seven Republicans voted against it.
The committee voted to recommend the full House kill a second bill that would repeal the voter ID law entirely. That vote was 12-6, with all six “no” votes coming from Democrats.
Hudson Rep. Shawn Jasper, the House Republican whip, said the voter ID law is intended to prevent voter fraud. Voters who didn’t present an ID in November had to fill out an affidavit, but more than 1,600 post-election follow-up letters from the secretary of state’s office were returned as undeliverable, he said.
“People talk about, ‘There’s no voter fraud in the state of New Hampshire.’ This would suggest that there may actually be a fairly significant number of people who are not being honest when they sign these affidavits,” Jasper said.
The election-law committee yesterday also recommended, on a 10-8 party line vote, that the full House pass an amended bill that would eliminate language from voter registration forms stating that by
declaring New Hampshire as their place of domicile, the voter must also comply with laws regarding registering motor vehicles and obtaining a state driver’s license.
That language was added last year by the Legislature, also over a gubernatorial veto. It was challenged in a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters and New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, who said it would especially discourage student voters, and a
judge stayed the new law ahead of the November election.
All 10 votes in support of the bill came from Democrats, and all eight votes against it came from Republicans.