Editorial: On voter ID, the House position is right

Last modified: 6/13/2013 9:18:11 AM
If Republicans and Democrats can’t find a way to compromise on a legislative solution to a problem that doesn’t exist, what hope is there? Passage of the voter identification law by the last Legislature’s Republican super-majority was a low point in partisanship. Bill Gardner, the secretary of state for the past generation, and the facts, proved that the alleged voter fraud that the law was intended to prevent essentially didn’t exist. The law, one of many passed along in draft form to states by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, passed anyway.

This year, the House, expecting opposition from the Senate, where Republicans hold a 13-11 majority, voted not to repeal the law but to make it less onerous by rolling back changes that would eliminate student IDs as an acceptable form of identification. The law also called for election officials to photograph voters who lacked approved identification. Both measures would work to discourage voters and threaten New Hampshire’s status as a state that deserves to host the nation’s first presidential primary because turnout is so high. A third change, which would eliminate the ability of poll workers to identify people known to them, is silly in a rural state filled with small towns and an insult to the integrity of election officials. It should be removed.

Little time for compromise is left. The Senate did agree to delay the photographing of voters until 2015, after learning that the cost of cameras and other expenses to comply would top $80,000. But it has yet to yield on other issues. A committee of conference is working to craft a bill that can win majority support.

The Senate majority isn’t fooling anyone with its talk of protecting the sanctity of elections. The law was designed to discourage voting by students, minorities, the poor and the elderly, the portion of the population least likely to have a government ID and most likely to vote Democratic. Whatever the outcome, voters should know that.

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