The New Hampshire House of Representatives yesterday rejected a comprehensive repeal of the state voter identification law and instead passed a compromise bill that would keep the current voter identification law in effect and repeal even stricter law which was to take effect September 1, 2013. The compromise bill now goes to the senate.
HB287 would have repealed many of the voter ID requirements that were passed during the Republican controlled sessions of 2010-2012. The election law committee had voted 12-6 to reject this bill and instead support a compromise version.
HB595, the compromise bill, would retain the voter ID laws that were passed and implemented to date but it would drop further requirements due for the next election. The upcoming requirements include requiring the officials at each voting place to photograph any voter without a valid photo ID and print and attach that photograph to a “challenged voter” card. Just that requirement will necessitate the state spend over $75,000 on cameras and printer equipment at all voting places.
Representative Katherine Hoelzel, Republican representing Raymond, and herself a moderator in charge of voting at Raymond's voting place, is one of the bill's sponsors. This bill was primarily a Democrat bill but its compromise version gained bipartisan support.
Representative Shawn Jasper, Republican representing Hudson and leading opposition to the bill, stated facts that “the attorney general will have to investigate 1690 individuals” who had no photo ID and who gave addresses in the last election to which letters were sent and they were returned as undeliverable. Additionally, he stated that another 2200 of the cards enclosed in the verification letters have not been returned, resulting in over 3000 total voter investigations.
Under HB595, identifications that were acceptable for the November 2012 elections, such as student and business photo identification badges, would continue to be accepted for upcoming elections.
Voter ID continues to be a hotly debated political issue with Democrats largely challenging any thought that voter fraud may exist and Republicans challenging any thought that it may not exist. Opponents to HB595 questioned why change the law while investigations into the most recent elections are still in process.
The bill now moves to the Senate where the Republicans hold a slim majority.