Along party lines, a Senate committee on Wednesday supported on a 3-2 vote changing the current state voter identification law by removing its clear statutory reference to student IDs as an acceptable form of voter ID. Also Wednesday, the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee voted — again along partisan lines — to recommend passage of legislation that addresses the requirements that one needs to meet to register to vote. Committee Chairman David Boutin, R-Hooksett, said although the specific reference to a student ID is removed under his voter ID amendment, it would allow state university system student IDs to be used under a broad requirement that the would-be voters produce “a nondriver’s identification card issued by” a “department, agency or office of any state.”
Boutin said he believed the state university system is an agency of the state under the bill. Private student college IDs, such as for Dartmouth College, would also likely be allowed under his amendment, he said, but the decision would be at the discretion of the local elected officials at the polling place.
Leaving clear reference to students IDs in the law, he said, “might cause concern” among some Senate Republicans. “It’s the art of compromise,” he said. “I’m confident moderators will do the right thing.”
Sen. David Pierce, D-Etna, strongly opposed the Boutin plan, saying it “takes us backward, not forward.”
“Current law expressly allows student ID,” Pierce said after the vote. “I’d argue that the intent here was to take it out,” which he said was politically-driven. He said the bill “exponentially grows moderator power” and that removing student IDs as an acceptable form of voter identification has been the GOP’s “long-held objective.”