MANCHESTER — State and local election officials held a community meeting Monday to explain some of the changes in store at the polls for the upcoming primary and general elections due to the recently enacted voter identification law.
“The day when people brought in a utility bill with their name on it, that’s not going to cut it,” Alderman and state Rep. Pat Long said at the meeting, which was held at Manchester City Hall.
The meeting was organized by Democratic state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, who had been one of the most vocal critics of the legislation before it was passed by the Republican dominated Legislature last month.
Rule No. 1 is bring a photo ID. Rule No. 2 is, if you don’t have photo identification, you will most likely still be allowed to vote, at least in the 2012 elections; more stringent identification requirements take effect in 2013.
For this election, there are seven types of acceptable ID: A driver’s license from any state, which can be expired; a state-issued non-driver’s ID; a U.S. Armed Services ID; a U.S. passport, which can be expired; a valid state, county or municipal photo ID; a valid student ID; voter checklist supervisors also have the discretion to approve other forms of photo ID, such as one issued by an employer, and the clerk may also waive the ID requirement if he or she can personally verify the voter’s identity.
On primary day, those without an approved form of ID will still be allowed to vote, but they will be sent home with a brochure explaining the required forms of ID and how to obtain a voucher to get a state-issued photo ID. For the general election, voters without approved IDs will have to fill out a challenged voter affidavit, in which they attest to their address and eligibility to vote.
The process for absentee voting will not change for this election.
Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said his office was organizing training sessions with local election officials and was preparing a brochure to send out to the public.
Sen. D’Allesandro said he organized the event to make sure that the new law does not undermine the right to vote. But he also reprised some of the arguments he made against the legislation before it was passed, if in a milder form.
He pointed to historical events, from the change in the New Hampshire Constitution that allowed Catholics to vote in 1877, to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. “The right to vote has been on an expansion curve,” D’Allesandro said. “As we see now, there are restrictions on the right to vote.”
Meanwhile, Manchester City Clerk Matthew Normand said his office is holding training sessions of its own, and he put out the word that the city is actively looking for people who want to work at the polls.
He said that poll workers will attempt to screen voters without ID before they reach the registration desk and have them fill out the necessary affidavit.
“There’s going to be heavy turnout for a presidential election. Our goal will be to keep the checklist line moving, but if the challenged voter form is not completed, they’re going to have to step out of line,” he said.
Those interested in working at the polls can contact the city clerk’s office at 624-6455.