VOTER ID REJECTED IN KEY SWING STATE. New Hampshire’s Democratic governor vetoed a voting law passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature today, saying it “would put into place a photo identification system that is far more restrictive than necessary.”
The law would have allowed various forms of ID to be used in this November’s election, including student ID. However, only driver’s licenses, state-issued non-driver’s identification cards, passports or military IDs would be allowed in later elections. Residents without photo ID would have been able to sign an affidavit and be photographed by an election official.
“We need to encourage all New Hampshire citizens to vote and to participate fully in our democracy,” Gov. John Lynch said in a veto statement. “We also need to ensure that our election laws do not unfairly burden those voters that have recently established a domicile in New Hampshire and are qualified to vote in this state.”
The veto didn’t sit well with New Hampshire House Speaker New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien, a conservative Republican, who said the law was needed to prevent voter fraud, even though study after study over the years has found large-scale voter fraud to be almost non-existent in the United States .
“The vast majority of New Hampshire voters will be disappointed to learn that in one of his last acts on legislation, this governor has chosen to favor his party’s discrimination mythology about voters being asked for photo identification instead of supporting a common sense solution to the pressing need to ensure honest elections,” O’Brien said in his statement.
New Hampshire was one of more than a half dozen states – most of them with Republican-controlled legislatures – that have passed laws to require people to show government-approved photo ID in order to register or cast ballots. In addition, some states have passed measures to restrict or eliminate voter registration drives by third-part groups like the League of Women Voters and the NAACP; curtail or end early voting periods; and rescind voting rights of convicted felons who have served their sentences.
Opponent of the new laws say they are deliberate attempts to suppress the votes of blacks, Hispanics, the elderly, younger voters, and the poor – groups that traditionally vote Democratic.
A study released last October by the Brennan Center for Justice says that the new measures could restrict voting access to five million people, most of them minorities. The new laws could also alter the 2012 presidential electoral map. States that have passed new laws account for 171 electoral votes in 2012, some 63 percent of the 270 electoral votes need to win the White House, according to the Brennan Center study.
“We are pleased Governor Lynch vetoed this restrictive voter ID bill, which would have made it more difficult for some eligible voters to cast ballots this fall,” said Keesha Gaskins, senior counsel for the Brennan Center. “This law is another example of a legislature placing unreasonable restrictions on voters, without clear benefit to voters or to election officials.”
On Capitol Hill Thursday, Democratic lawmakers said that the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee’s vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress over refusing to hand over documents relating to the “Operation Fast and Furious” gun program was partial payback by Republicans for the Justice Department challenging new voting laws in Texas, South Carolina, and Florida.
“Don’t forget they’re going after Eric Holder because he is supporting measures to overturn these voter suppression initiatives in the states,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “It is no coincidence. It is a plan on the part of Republicans.”
Several voting rights experts said New Hampshire ’s voting law appeared aimed at college-age voters. State House Speaker O’Brien told a Tea Party group last year that students are “foolish” and tend to “vote their feelings.”
“Voting as a liberal,” O’Brien told the group, according to a New York Times account. “That’s what kids do.”
Lynch said provisions in the law were “overly broad and will effectively require resident seniors, as well as retirees and young persons coming from out of state to register a car and apply for a New Hampshire license in order to vote. There is no compelling state interest for this requirement.”