New Hampshire might be the most conservative state in New England, but John Lynch, the Democratic governor, isn’t following the tea-party crowd. He vetoed June 27 a bill that would require all residents to present photo identification before voting.
“There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire,” Lynch said upon vetoing the bill. “We already have strong elections laws that are effective in regulating our elections.”
Stricter voting laws have been pushed in New Hampshire and in states across the country by the Republican Party and its tea-party allies. They argue that civic groups like ACORN have manipulated the voting process. Opponents point out that no significant cases of voter fraud have actually been uncovered.
Further, opponents argue, the new rules would make it harder – impossible for some people – to vote. The laws have been shown to disproportionately affect poor and minority communities, and have been considered by some to be akin to a new form of the poll tax. New Hampshire is about 94 percent white, and many against the rules change argue that it is aimed especially at keeping students, a demographic that tends to vote less Republican, away from the polls.
According to the New Hampshire bill, SB 129, voters would have to present a valid photo identification issued by federal or state government agencies. If they failed to do so, they would be made to cast a provisional ballot, which would be rejected unless the hopeful voter returns within 2.5 days with an acceptable identification.
Lynch took issue with problems this could cause people. “Seniors, students, those who are disabled or do not drive, and those who do not already have a state-issued or federal-issued photo ID,” he said, “may not be able to arrange to obtain a valid photo ID within the tight 2 and a half day timeframe.”
New Hampshire’s limited government structure adds to the woes. “Many town offices are closed or have only limited hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, when those voters who received a provisional ballot would be expected to return to produce a photo ID and have their vote counted,” Lynch continued.
In some areas of the state, Department of Motor Vehicles offices were consolidated, meaning that a number of small towns no longer have ready access to the DMV, which provides the most-used photo ID, the drivers license. For people who don’t have a license to begin with, getting to the DMV so quickly presents a problem.