Senate and House negotiators struck a last-minute deal yesterday to reform New Hampshire’s voter ID law, ensuring student ID cards will continue to be accepted as a valid form of identification at the polls. “I think it’s a good compromise,” said Rep. Gary Richardson of Hopkinton, the Democratic floor leader in the House. Negotiations between the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-led House on a bill making changes to last year’s voter ID law broke down early in the week. But the two sides continue to talk informally, and yesterday morning the committee of conference chaired by Richardson finalized a new version of the bill. It will go before the House and Senate on Wednesday for a final vote. If it passes, it will go to Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat.
Under the deal, the list of acceptable forms of ID will narrow as planned starting Sept. 1. But student IDs, which could be used at the polls last year, will be added to that list and remain a valid form of identification for voters.
In addition, voters 65 and older will be able to use an expired card, such as an old driver’s license, as valid identification.
Under current law, starting in September, voters who don’t present an ID and instead fill out an affidavit must be photographed by poll workers. Under the deal struck yesterday, that requirement will be delayed until 2015.
“All in all, it was a reasonable compromise that we all got behind,” Sen. David Boutin, a Hooksett Republican and the chief Senate negotiator.
Richardson and Boutin both said they expect a bill will be filed next year to delete the photo-taking requirement entirely. Richardson said House Democrats wanted to delete the photo-taking requirement now, but were willing to push it off.