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June 27. 2012 8:36PM

Legislature overrides Lynch veto on voter ID

CONCORD – In another significant accomplishment for the Republican-controlled Legislature, the Senate and House on Wednesday passed a law requiring people to present photo identification when voting, while adopting a last-minute amendment meant to ease concerns expressed by voting officials ahead of the November elections.

The Senate voted 18-5 to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 289, which will require voters this November to show a photo ID or sign an affidavit. The House passed the bill 231-112. Both votes exceeded the two-thirds margin necessary for a veto override.

The last-minute change concerned the kind of affidavit required of voters who do not have acceptable identification in this year’s elections.

The Senate voted to reintroduce a bill it had tabled earlier in the session, House Bill 1354, and amend it to change all references to a “qualified voter affidavit” in SB 289 to “challenged voter affidavit.”

The challenged voter document asks a voter to attest to their name, residence and eligibility to vote; whereas the qualified voter form is the same people must submit when they register to vote and requires them to give their place and date of birth or naturalization.

Town moderators are unfamiliar with the form and a change so close to the election could create problems at the polls, according to the bill’s chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston.

“This amendment is needed to correct an oversight on my part,”

Prescott said on the floor of the Senate. “I visited with members of the town and city clerks association, and they had the same situation occur, as did the Secretary of State’s Office.”

Both the Senate and House passed the “fix” bill, HB 1354, and then voted to override the governor’s veto of SB 289.

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.

The governor has five days to sign, veto or let HB 1354 become law without his signature.

A spokesman for Lynch said he will be reviewing the “fix” bill.

Democrats were opposed to the underlying bill, SB 289, because they said it would disenfranchise voters, and they maintained voter fraud was not a problem in New Hampshire.

“if we’re going keep people from getting out to vote, if we’re going to hinder them, then when we’re not doing our duty as democratically elected representatives,” said Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester.

However, Republican leaders said voter identification laws are a safeguard against fraud – and they pointed to an incident during the presidential primary when a Republican activist was able to obtain ballots in New Hampshire by using the names of deceased people.

“Passing voter ID and strengthening voter laws in New Hampshire have been priorities of House Republicans and we are thrilled to finally pass this into law,” said House Majority Leader Pete Silva, R-Nashua, in a statement. “Today, our citizens have to show an ID to get on a plane, on a bus, to pick up a package and to enter a federal building.

It certainly is not a major imposition to ask for a driver’s license or other ID in order to protect the integrity of voting.”

The Legislature also overrode the veto of a companion bill, Senate Bill 318, which modifies forms and procedures for voter registration and links a person’s voting domicile to state motor vehicle records.

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Ted Seifer may be reached at tseifer@unionleader.com.

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