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Lynch vetoes bill requiring photo ID at polls

State House Bureau Chief

June 27. 2011 3:55PM

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill Monday that requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls in order to cast a ballot.

Lynch said the bill, Senate Bill 129, 'creates a real risk that New Hampshire voters will be denied their right to vote.

'Voter turnout in New Hampshire is among the highest in the nation, election after election. There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire. We already have strong elections laws that are effective in regulating our elections,' Lynch said.

The House and Senate can override Lynch's veto, if leaders can garner two-thirds majorities. A session to deal with vetoes is expected in the fall.

Last week, lawmakers cast successful overrides of Lynch vetoes of bills on parental notification, minimum wage and fire sprinkler regulation.

SB 129 requires a person to present a valid photo ID in order to obtain a ballot beginning with elections in November 2012. It also allows a person without an ID to vote with a provisional ballot, which will be stored until the voter presents an ID, for a maximum of three days.

The Senate version of the bill would have allowed a person without a photo ID to vote, but would have required the voter to allow a picture to be taken and stored by local election officials. It did not allow for provisional ballots, an aspect of the House bill that local election officials and Secretary of State William Gardner oppose.

It is not clear whether the veto can be overridden in the heavily Republican Legislature. The House passed the bill by a veto-proof two-thirds majority, with a 259-116 vote.

The Senate fell short of the two-thirds, passing it 14-9. Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, an opponent of the bill, was absent for the vote.

SB 129 says local election officials must request a photo ID from every prospective voter. A driver's license from any state would be acceptable, as would a passport.

A valid ID would have to be presented before a provisional ballot could be counted, unless a voter could obtain a waiver of the ID requirement from the Secretary of State's office or provide an affidavit claiming a religious exemption.

At noon on the third day after an election, any town in which provisional ballots had been cast and verified would amend its election returns and forward them to Gardner's office.

This is not the first time Lynch has blocked efforts to require voters to show photo ID's to obtain a ballot. In 2006, he vetoed a similar law, as well as one that barred anyone from voting here if they owned a car that was registered in another state.

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