Voter ID law in focus for District 16 special Senate election

Monitor staff
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Election officials and poll watchers will have a fresh review of the state’s voter identification law in mind for Tuesday’s special election for the Senate seat covering Bow, Dunbarton, Candia, Hooksett and part of Manchester.

The attorney general’s office sent a memo Monday to the relevant moderators clarifying the forms of acceptable ID and noting that others can be okay, too, so long as they include a person’s name and photo.

The letter came in the days after a Concord moderator was challenged at the polls by what he referred to as “an overzealous presence from the GOP.”

Moderator Stephen Ludwick, a Republican, said some voters arrived to the Havenwood retirement home polling place with nontraditional IDs or no ID at all. In some cases, he deemed retirement home IDs with photos to be valid, and in others, he or his election staff vouched for residents who were known to them.

The GOP poll watcher disruptively disagreed with these decisions and demanded action from the moderator – in one case, Ludwick noted, the man later admitted that his understanding of the law was wrong.

Ludwick said the watcher’s multiple disruptions caused him to call Republican Party Chairwoman Jeanie Forrester, who ensured that the man left the polling place. Democrat Kris Schultz ultimately won the special election for state representative.

“Havenwood IDs have a photo on them,” Ludwick said. “The law doesn’t specifically list Havenwood’s ID as an acceptable form. It says that I can recognize that as an acceptable form.”

Ludwick said the memo issued Monday by Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards was a clarification after this episode.

“I don’t think the attorney general did anything other than to clarify the law as already written,” Ludwick said.

Edwards wrote that the following are acceptable forms of ID: a driver’s license, a nondriver’s identification card, an armed services identification card, a passport, a valid student identification or a challenged voter affidavit.

Moderators also have the discretion to permit other forms, she said, but they “must, at the very least, contain a photo of the individual to whom the photo identification was issued and the individual’s name. … Identification cards presented that do not have a photograph on them shall not be accepted under any circumstances as a valid voter identification.”

Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said his party didn’t send election watchers to the special election in Concord last week, but it will make an effort Tuesday to have a presence at each polling place. He accused Republicans of trying to intimidate voters.

Forrester was unable to be reached for comment.

Three candidates are on the ballot for the District 16 Senate seat, which promises to be more hotly contested than the election last week in Concord to fill one of 400 House seats.

David Boutin, the Republican candidate, previously held the Senate seat from 2010 to 2017 and before that served in the House of Representatives.

Kevin Cavanaugh, the Democratic candidate, is a Manchester alderman and assistant business manager of a local union of electrical workers.

Jason Dubrow, the Libertarian candidate, is an engineer from Dunbarton.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, nreid@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at