Voter ID Bill Passes House
Vote was 226-115.
After months of heated debate over voter rights, the New Hampshire House voted in favor of Voter ID legislation, 226 to 115.
Senate Bill 289 requires that a voter present one of four types of photo ID when voting, and if they are unable to produce a valid ID, they must sign a voter affidavit and have their photo taken. The bill, which was passed with a House amendment, now goes back to the Senate.
Frustration boiled over during debate over the bill on the House floor, resulting in State Rep. Steve Vaillancourt being ejected from the Statehouse by House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon.
O'Brien, in a prepared statement after the vote, said:
“We must ensure that our elections are as pure as possible, and free of corruption. For years, clean election advocates have been warning the Attorney General and the Legislature about both the opportunity for fraud and evidence of electoral fraud. We saw evidence of this problem firsthand in the New Hampshire primary this year. This bill will finally address the immediate need for protecting the integrity of the ballot box and the principle of ‘one man, one vote."
Hours after the vote, House Minority Leader Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, sent Patch this statement from the NH House Floor:
"The attorney general and the secretary of state have consistently testified that there is no meaningful problem with impersonation fraud. The House passed amendment, which was opposed by the city and town clerks, will make it more difficult to vote, spend money we do not have, and will create chaos on election day," Norelli wrote.
The bill has been publicly criticized by several voting rights advocates, who call the bill discriminatory, including: America Votes, the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, Disability Rights Center, Granite State Independent Living, Granite State Progress, American Friends Service Committee, and NH Alliance for Retired Americans.
Citing some of those concerns, Gov. John Lynch vetoed a similar bill in 2011. In his veto message, he argued there is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire.
The current bill had a strong following coming into 2012. After the James O'Keefe undercover voter controversy on Primary Day in January, Republican legislative leaders have underscored that voter fraud is a big problem in New Hampshire and they hold up the voter ID bill as the remedy.
The House Election Law Committee's minority report, written by Rep. David Pierce, D-Etna, notes the bill as amended lacks the bipartisan support behind previous editions of the proposal. Town and city clerks had supported the bill when it came out of the Senate, but now oppose it, according to Pierce.
"They are charged with running an efficient polling place on election day, and believe this bill, as amended, will create chaos on election day," Pierce writes in the minority report.