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June 20. 2012 11:48PM

UPDATE: Governor vetoes four bills, including voter ID

CONCORD –- Gov. John Lynch on Thursday vetoed four bills, including one that would require voters to present photo identification in November's general election or to sign a qualified voter affidavit.

Using a qualified voter affidavit shouldn't be used to establish a voter's identity to vote and “will cause confusion, slow the voting process and may result in the inability of eligible voters to cast their vote,” Lynch wrote in his veto message.

Other bills he vetoed were:

- House Bill 1607, which would establish a scholarship program for students to attend private, religious or other public schools. It would have been funded through business tax credits.

-Senate Bill 409, which would let seriously and terminally ill patients use marijuana medicinally.

-Senate Bill 356, which limits the authority of state delegates who participate in a convention called by the states for the purpose of considering amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The House and Senate plan to take up override votes on Wednesday. A two-thirds vote will be required to override the governor.

Regarding the photo ID bill, House Speaker William O'Brien said in a statement:
"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.

“This voter ID bill is a well-structured approach to ensuring clean elections,” he said. “We need to protect the integrity of the ballot box and guarantee that the 'one person, one vote' principle is not diluted by dishonest votes.”
Under SB 289, after September 2013, voters without identification also would be photographed and the photo attached to the affidavit.

Last year, Lynch vetoed a photo ID bill passed by both the House and Senate after town and city clerks voiced their concern that the bill was unworkable. The Senate failed to override the veto.

This session, the Senate passed a bill that satisfied the concerns of clerks and the Secretary of State's office, but the House made the bill more stringent. A compromise was reached allowing the Senate version of the bill to be in effect for this year's elections, while the House version would apply after September 2013.

Some election officials fear the affidavit may take several minutes for voters to fill out and requires information that may not be readily available. They fear it may cause long lines at the polls in November.

On Wednesday, Lynch vetoed SB 318, which linked a person's voting domicile to state motor vehicle records.

An earlier story follows:

CONCORD — Gov. John Lynch vetoed a bill Wednesday changing the voter registration process and is expected to veto a bill today that would require voters to present photo identification in November's general election.

Lynch said the photo ID bill would disenfranchise voters and lead to long lines at the polls; he said the change in voter registration requirements is not needed.

Under Senate Bill 289, voters would need to show photo identification to vote — or sign a qualified voter affidavit. After September 2013, voters without identification would also be photographed and the photo attached to the affidavit.

Lynch had previously said he has concerns the photo ID bill may not protect a person's constitutional right to vote.

Last year, Lynch vetoed a photo ID bill passed by both the House and Senate after town and city clerks voiced their concern that the bill was unworkable. The Senate failed to override the veto.

This session, Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, worked with the clerks and Secretary of State's office to craft a bill that would satisfy their concerns as well as the governor's.

That bill passed the Senate, but the House made the bill more stringent. A compromise was reached allowing the Senate version of the bill to be in effect for this year's elections, while the House version would apply after September 2013.

The compromise passed both the House and Senate earlier this month, but local election officials voiced some concerns.

Officials fear the affidavit may take several minutes for voters without photo identification to fill out, and requires information that may not be readily available.

They say that is likely to cause long lines at the polls in November, when record turnout is expected.

A companion bill, SB 318, was vetoed by Lynch Wednesday.

The bill modifies forms and procedures for voter registration and links a person's voting domicile to state motor vehicle records.

Lynch said the bill is unnecessary and could disenfranchise voters.

“Our election laws already establish that voters must be domiciled in New Hampshire in order to vote in this state, and that all New Hampshire residents must comply with motor vehicle registration and licensing requirements. This bill is unnecessary,” Lynch wrote in his veto message.

“Any changes to our voting procedures must ensure a person's constitutional right to vote is protected. This bill does not meet that test.”

House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, criticized the veto, saying the governor must want out-of-state residents to vote in New Hampshire elections.

“No explanation beyond a desire for non-New Hampshire voters to participate in New Hampshire elections can adequately explain why the governor chose to veto this reasonable bill that merely makes clear that in order to vote in New Hampshire, one must be a resident of New Hampshire,” O'Brien said. “I call upon the candidates for governor — Republicans and Democrats alike — to show they stand for integrity in our elections by expressing their support of these voter reform laws.”

The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, also was critical of the veto.

“The purpose of SB 318 is simple and straightforward: We want to make sure those individuals who want to participate in an election are properly registered to vote,” she said. “As the home of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, New Hampshire should have clear standards like the ones SB 318 provides concerning who is and who is not qualified to vote in our state. It's disappointing Gov. Lynch has decided against supporting clean elections here in New Hampshire.”

Both bills passed the House and Senate by veto-proof margins, but issues with the qualified voter affidavit may doom SB 289 in a Senate vote to override the veto. - Garry Rayno, State House Bureau

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Garry Rayno may be reached at grayno@unionleader.com.


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