he Democratic effort to roll back New Hampshire’s voter ID law ran aground yesterday when negotiations between the House and Senate ended almost as soon as they began. Negotiators from the Democratic-led House and Republican-led Senate could still reach some sort of compromise before Thursday’s deadline for committees of conference to finish their work. But neither side sounds confident that will happen. “I would say the chances are slim,” said Rep. Gary Richardson, a Hopkinton Democrat and the chief House negotiator. Last year, the then-GOP-dominated Legislature enacted a law requiring voters to present photo identification or sign an affidavit at the polls. The law’s second phase will kick in this fall, with a shorter list of acceptable forms of ID that doesn’t include student IDs and a requirement that election workers photograph anyone signing an affidavit to vote.
Repealing or rolling back the law was a priority for Democrats after they gained seats in the Senate and won a majority in the House last fall. The House in March voted, 184-122, largely along party lines, to pass a bill that would eliminate the law’s second phase and maintain the program as it worked during last fall’s election.
But Senate Republicans last month, on a 13-11 party-line vote, amended the bill to keep in place the shorter list of IDs and the photo-taking requirement, though the latter would have been delayed two years.
The conference committee appointed to see whether a compromise could be reached met yesterday morning, and it didn’t take long to reach an impasse.