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Small percentage of new NH voters didn't show right ID

Staff Report
January 14. 2012 10:59PM

Only 352 of the 126,063 first-time New Hampshire voters registering on Election Day in 2006, 2008 or 2010 failed to produce acceptable photo identification, according to state officials.

The Secretary of State's Office later sent letters to those 352 people, and the U.S. Postal Service returned 17 as undeliverable.

The state Attorney General's Office then used investigators who confirmed all were eligible to vote and did so.

Secretary of State William Gardner said last week that investigators sometimes spend months, 'but they track them down.'

One man was found incarcerated in a county jail - but months after he had voted.

In another instance, a Dartmouth student presented what was deemed by a supervisor of the checklist to be a non-qualifying ID to register in Hanover in November 2006, according to a letter from James Kennedy, an attorney in the Civil Bureau of the Attorney General's Office.

The student said she didn't receive a verification letter from the Secretary of State's Office and told an investigator she was studying in Europe between Dec. 7, 2006, and March 26, 2007. She confirmed she voted but didn't recall what form of ID was rejected. Kennedy's letter didn't say whether it was identification with a photo on it.

Other instances included names misspelled or wrong addresses fed into the Statewide Voter Registration System.

'We have the strictest registration requirement in the country,' said Joan Flood Ashwell, election law specialist with the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire.

On Election Day 2010, 23,512 people registered to vote, and 49 didn't have an acceptable photo ID. Of those, an AG investigator checked out four whose letters were returned by the post office, according to a letter from Matthew Mavrogeorge, an assistant attorney general.

A Manchester woman listed a West River Road address on her registration form. An investigator found she lived on West River Drive, not West River Road.

A letter sent to her by the Secretary of State's Office spelled her last name wrong and was mailed to River Road. The name and address used by the office came verbatim from information entered into the statewide voter registration database by local officials, according to Mavrogeorge.

A letter to a University of New Hampshire student was sent to the wrong mailbox at the UNH Memorial Student Union building because a local clerk misread a '2' as a '7' and entered it into the statewide database.

A Berlin voter moved to his parents house in Gorham shortly after the election. An investigator in July 2011 spoke with the man, who had been incarcerated at the Grafton County House of Corrections since April 2011.

And the fourth person, an Alstead woman, moved to Idaho after the election to attend college there.

Ashwell said people are required to show documentation to register.

'Unlike every other state, in New Hampshire you have to register in person,' Ashwell said.

Gardner said a government form of ID, such as a driver's license or passport, with someone's current address is preferred. A work or school ID also is acceptable. People can also bring other items, such as a utility bill, to establish current residence.

A person also could sign an affidavit, under the penalty of jail time, swearing they are eligible to vote at that polling place.

'New Hampshire has a real good process in place for investigating allegations of voter fraud,' said Zandra Rice Hawkins, director of Granite State Progress, a Concord group that bills itself as a 'progressive advocacy organization' for local and state issues.

'Time and again, we've seen there's no rampant voter fraud,' Hawkins said.

'We believe the push behind this issue is some politicians trying to restrict access to voting,' she said. 'If they can't count on your vote, they'd rather you not vote at all.'


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