Elaine Schmottlach has been a ballot clerk in the small southeastern New Hampshire town of Nottingham – population, 4,785 – for the last 25 years. Yet when it came time for her to vote on Nov. 6, she had to show valid photo identification as required under a new state law. Schmottlach refused and submitted a challenged voter affidavit instead. “My view is this is a horrendous law,” she told ProPublica. “I absolutely detest it. I hated having to ask my best friend to show an ID to prove that she is who she is.”
Schmottlach’s act of defiance didn’t have much effect – this time. Her vote still counted, she wasn’t handed a provisional ballot and she wasn’t required to return to the poll with ID. But that could change in future elections under New Hampshire’s plans to phase in the new law.
In the months leading up to the election, voter-ID laws were seen as the biggest threat to voter turnout: More than 30 states have passed such laws, which require voters to provide some type of identification at the polls (see our previous explainer).
But many of these laws, particularly the ones requiring strict photo identification, met setbacks ahead of the election. A state judge ruled in October that Pennsylvania’s law couldn’t be implemented this election, while federal judges refused to allow similar measures take effect this year in Texas and South Carolina.