Editorial: A better way to protest voter ID law
If you loathe New Hampshire’s new voter ID law, should you refuse to show your ID to send a message to the Legislature that passed it?
No! And here’s why:
The whole cynical purpose of the law was to discourage people (certain people, anyway) from voting – to intimidate and confuse them about the rules, to bog down the process, to slow the lines at the polls. Among the people least likely to have a photo ID are the poor, the disabled and the young. In other words, people without cars – and people more likely to vote for Democrats.
If you refuse to show your ID as a form of protest, you’ll still be allowed to vote but – unless the polling officials recognize you – you’ll first have to fill out an affidavit. In many places, this could slow down the process and discourage the voters in line behind you. Just what the authors of this terrible legislation wanted!
Turnout today is expected to be high. Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicts 722,000 voters in all – about 70 percent of the voting-age population. Additionally, many people will arrive without being registered, either because they’re first-time voters or because the state in 2011 purged its voter rolls, removing the names of people who hadn’t voted in the past few elections. About 160,000 names were removed, and Gardner expects as many as 100,000 new voters or returning voters to be registering today.
In other words: You’ll likely encounter a line. Making the line slower won’t help. And it’s quicker to show an ID than to sign an affidavit.
Voter advocacy groups and the attorney general are also discouraging such protests – and for the same reasons.
The election officials at your polling place didn’t pass the new voter ID law. They are simply doing their job. Don’t like the law? The answer isn’t to make it harder for others to vote. Focus instead on electing a governor and legislators who will quickly repeal it.