U.S Attorney General Eric Holder could be the last hurdle between New Hampshire and its new Voter ID law. Granite State lawmakers may have overcome the objection of Governor John Lynch to the state’s new Voter ID law, but they may still have to get Holder’s permission. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Department of Justice must “pre-clear” any changes in election laws affecting ten New Hampshire communities. The House and Senate overrode Lynch’s veto to a new Voter ID law on Wednesday, meaning voters will have to show photo identification at the polls this fall, or sign an affidavit that they are who they claim to be. New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General Matt Mavrogeorge tells New Hampshire Watchdog that his office has let Washington know that the new law is on the books. “We’ve been in contact with the lawyers in Washington to let them know about the law,” Mavrogeorge says. “We don’t anticipate any problems.”
But Holder has already lodged objections to similar laws passed in two southern states. In December, the DOJ objected to South Carolina’s new Voter ID law, arguing that racial minorities would be “significantly burdened” by having to show identification at the polls. In March, Justice determined that Texas lawmakers failed to prove their state’s new Voter ID law did not have a “discriminatory purpose or effect.” The Attorney General is at the center of showdown with the U.S. House of Representatives, which last week found Holder in contempt for failure to release documents related to the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious gun-running program.
The Justice Department has never objected to any of New Hampshire election law changes, according to Mavrogeorge, but the Granite State largely ignored its status under the Voting Rights Act for several decades. In 2004, New Hampshire Attorney General Peter Heed began the process of removing the Granite State from the pre-clearance list, arguing that it shouldn’t have been singled out for special scrutiny in the first place. Mavrogeorge calls this process the “Bailout”. Concord Monitor reporter Molly A.K. Connors traced New Hampshire’s inclusion under Section 5 of the VRA to November 1968, when less than 50% of adults cast ballots in ten towns. Since New Hampshire also had a defunct literacy test on the books, it triggered Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as a jurisdiction suspect of racial discrimination. Connors was unable to determine why turnout in ten small towns was so low that day, but no one in New Hampshire or Washington suspects racial discrimination in communities that had virtually no minority population at the time.
Full Article: AG Holder could block NH Voter ID.