CONCORD — The Senate is expected to consider last-minute changes to voter identification legislation as it meets today to cast final votes on bills for the year.
Both the Senate and House will vote on whether to override Gov. John Lynch’s veto of Senate Bill 289, which would require voters this November to show a photo ID or sign a qualified voter affidavit. More stringent identification requirements would be imposed in subsequent elections.
The Senate is expected to take action to change the qualified voter affidavit with a simpler “challenged voter” affidavit.
Town moderators have complained that getting voters to fill out qualified voter affidavits this election will create chaos and lines at the polls.
Use of the qualified voter affidavit was one problem cited by Lynch in his veto. Of greater concern, he said, was the limited range of IDs that would be acceptable after 2012; primarily state-issued driver’s licenses.
When they voted on the final version of SB 289, both the House and Senate passed it by wide enough margins to override a veto.
Any change in Senate Bill 289 would send it back to the House for approval and then back to the governor, who would have up to five days to sign the bill or veto it, which would likely kill the bill for the year.
On Tuesday, town moderators and the League of Women Voters stepped up their criticism of the bill.
“We believe this bill will discriminate against certain people, people who for whatever reason don’t drive,” said Joan Flood Ashwell of the League of Women Voters New Hampshire, which participated in a conference call Tuesday with town moderators from Durham and Raymond. “There’s probably 50,000 people who don’t have driver’s licenses but otherwise have the right to vote, most of whom are elderly and disabled, but also young people and members of minority groups.”
Meanwhile, the group Granite State Taxpayers issued a statement urging lawmakers to override the governor’s veto.
“Ultimately, the security of our legislative system, and with it the results of our efforts on behalf of taxpayers, rests on the integrity of the voting system, which is based on the concept of ‘one citizen, one vote.’ When people who are not legally entitled to do so, are allowed to vote, it nullifies the votes of legal voters,” said James Adams, the group’s chairman.
Other bills up for override votes:
Senate Bill 409 would allow seriously and terminally ill patients to grow marijuana for personal use with their doctor’s permission. There appear to be enough votes in the House – a two-thirds majority – to override Gov. Lynch’s veto. The Senate is expected to come one to two votes short of the necessary 16 votes.
Senate Bill 406 would establish an ‘early offer’ system whereby patients injured in medical procedures could receive capped settlements from hospitals in a matter of months. Gov. Lynch vetoed the bill on the grounds the process favors hospitals over patients. There appear to be enough votes for an override in the Senate but not in the House, based on their earlier votes on the bill.
House Bill 217 would allow prosecutors to charge people who cause the death of an unborn child with homicide. The governor vetoed the bill because he objected to standard of eight weeks used to determine when the homicide statutes can be applied to a fetus. He favored the standard of viability of around 24 weeks, which was also used in the original House version of the bill. There doesn’t appear to be enough votes for a House override, based on its last vote on the bill.
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Ted Seifer may be reached at email@example.com.