New Hampshire deserves a “bailout” from federal oversight under the Voting Rights Act, a three-judge panel in Washington D.C. has ruled. ”Finally, we’re done with this,” Secretary of State William Gardner said Saturday night. The court approved the bailout on March 1, one day after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of that very section of the Voting Rights Act. Section 5 of the VRA requires jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get all changes to their election laws “pre-cleared” by the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court in D.C. New Hampshire found itself under that requirement in the 1960s, in part because the state had a literacy test on the books back then. Ten communities were singled out because of supposedly low voter registration and turnout.
Articles about voting issues in New Hampshire.
Secretary of State William Gardner takes a dim view of congressional efforts to address with federal legislation the long lines some states saw at polling places during the November election. In his experience, he said, “One-size-fits-all usually fits very few.” The White House and some in Congress are pushing for changes to federal election laws, such as those involving early voting and online voter registration. But if such measures were to pass, Gardner said, “we would first work to get out of it like we did with the National Voter Registration Act.” New Hampshire got an exemption from that 1993 “motor-voter” law by passing same-day voter registration and making it retroactive to the date of the federal legislation. Gardner stressed that different states have very different cultures. “We are who we are because of our history,” he said. And, he said, “the federal government hasn’t had the best of track records when it comes to changing election laws for states. And I would prefer that the federal government stay out of this.”
A bill to repeal the new voter photo identification law drew support Tuesday at a public hearing. Lawmakers last year approved a photo ID bill just months before the primary election that required voters to show a variety of photo IDs in order to vote in last November’s election. However, beginning in September, the list of acceptable photo IDs narrows to state or federally issued IDs. As in the past two years, supporters of the law say it is needed to guarantee the integrity of elections, while opponents of photo ID say it addresses a problem that does not exist but does disenfranchise certain groups of voters, such as the elderly, college students and the poor. The prime sponsor of House Bill 287, Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, said under his bill voter fraud would continue to be a crime.
New Hampshire: Advocates try to kill Voter ID bill before it’s fully implemented | NashuaTelegraph.com
Advocacy groups for voters, seniors and civil libertarians joined a legislative effort to strike down the law that starting this fall will require voters to show a state-approved, photo ID card at the polls. Joan Ashwell, with the League of Women Voters, conceded the difficulty of getting lawmakers to junk a law such as this one before it’s fully implemented. “We understand the reluctance of one Legislature to repeal a law just passed by a different Legislature,” Ashwell told the House Election Laws Committee. “In this case, we aren’t talking about a simple bill like naming a bridge or funding one amount of money in the budget or another. The voter ID threatens the most precious right of our citizens, the right to vote.”
New Hampshire: Cost Of Voter ID Law Adds Up As New Requirements Roll Out | New Hampshire Public Radio
New Hampshire election officials are preparing for the cost of rolling out the next phase of the state’s voter ID law. Starting with elections this fall, voters without identification must have their pictures taken by a poll worker before casting a ballot. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan says his department estimates purchasing a digital camera and printer for each of the state’s 330 polling sites, plus backups, will cost roughly $85,000.
Advocates of a return to straight party ticket voting, abandoned by the state in 2007, made their pitch before the state House Committee on Election Law Tuesday. The measure would let voters cast a ballot for every candidate of a particular party in a general election with a single check. They could also vote for each office individually. Some saw it as a convenience for voters; others as an unnecessarily confusing complication to voting. Still others debated the place of straight-ticket voting in modern politics. ”It is just a simplicity, a non-partisan partisan measure,” said Rep. Fred Rice, R-Hampton, a co-sponsor. “A number of voters go in and say ‘I know in advance that I want to vote for all one party or another;’ for them it is a convenience.”
Does the U.S. Department of Justice have ulterior motives for allowing New Hampshire to be released from a portion of the Voting Rights Act? That’s the theory being advanced by some conservative groups, including The Center for Individual Rights (CIR). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., CIR is questioning the motives behind a decision by Attorney General Eric Holder to release New Hampshire from Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. A key piece of civil rights legislation, the Voting Rights Act of 1964 guarantees that voters aren’t disenfranchised on account of race or color. It also contains several special provisions that impose stringent federal oversight in certain areas of the country, known as “covered jurisdictions.”
New Hampshire: Conservative Group Attempts To Block New Hampshire’s Bailout From Voting Rights Act | Huffington Post
The state of New Hampshire and the Justice Department agree that the state shouldn’t have to seek permission from the federal government before making changes to its voting laws. But a conservative group that doesn’t think any state should be subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain jurisdictions to pre-clear any such changes, is trying to block New Hampshire’s so-called bailout, alleging it’s all part of a scheme to trick the Supreme Court. The Center for Individual Rights filed a motion to intervene in a federal lawsuit last month to attempt to block New Hampshire from getting out of Section 5, alleging the 10 New Hampshire towns or townships covered by the provision aren’t entitled to a bailout under the law.
A group of Democratic lawmakers want to repeal the voter ID requirements implemented under Republican leadership. Current law requires that voters be asked for photo identification at the polls, but does not require they have one to cast a ballot. In elections this year, people who wanted to vote but did not have ID had to sign an affidavit.
Every two years, one of my favorite rituals of New Hampshire’s peculiar form of democracy is the recount. With 500 races on the ballot statewide, most of them in relatively small districts, there are dozens of races that come down to a very small number of votes. And every election, a few seats change hands once we get a closer look at the ballots. In fact, recounts in two state representative districts have already resulted in new winners.