Voter ID voucher offered by NH Secretary of State
Agnes Hayes shows a photo ID to voting officials during the Sept. 11 state primary at Northwest Elementary School in Manchester. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
With Election Day less than a month away, the New Hampshire Secretary of State is rushing to make sure all the pieces are in place for the state’s new voter ID law.
Any registered voter whose name already appears on a voter checklist but does not have an acceptable form of identification can now pick up a voucher for a free voter ID card at their city or town clerk’s office. The voter must then take the voucher to any state motor vehicle office to obtain a special voter identification card.
“This is an opportunity for those voters whose names appear on the checklist but do not otherwise have an acceptable form of photo ID to be able to obtain one at no charge from the state of New Hampshire,” said Deputy Attorney General David Scanlan in announcing the voucher program Monday.
The vouchers are mandated in the election law changes passed by the state Legislature in 2012.
After visiting a DMV licensing office with a voucher, the voter will receive a valid, temporary ID card. The actual photo ID will arrive in the mail approximately two weeks later. Voters hoping to have the card in hand on Election Day have little time to act.
The state Department of Motor Vehicles already has a process in place for issuing non-driver’s license photo identification cards, but the voter ID cards will have a different appearance and purpose. “The intent is that this card be used only for voting purposes,” Scanlan said.
The cards will be presented in a vertical layout so as to “prevent temptation for their use by an underage person,” he said.
Any voter who does not have an acceptable ID on Election Day can still vote after signing a “challenged voter affidavit” at the polling place. Those affidavits, stating full name and address, will be verified by mail after the election. Any that can’t be verified will be turned over to the attorney general for investigation.
Acceptable forms of identification include a driver’s license from any state, even if expired; a non-driver photo ID issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles; a U.S. military ID; a U.S. passport, even if expired; a valid student ID; a valid photo ID card issued by federal, state, county or municipal government; any photo ID deemed legitimate by a supervisor of the checklist, town or city clerk, or moderator; or verification of identity by a supervisor of the checklist, town or city clerk or moderator.
The U.S. Justice Department approved the voter ID provision for New Hampshire in early September, but challenged laws requiring photo IDs in Texas and South Carolina, where there are more minority voters.
The new law was tested with New Hampshire voters during the primary election on Sept. 11. Poll workers were instructed to ask for identification. If voters on the checklist had none, they were allowed to vote anyway, but were advised of the changes in the law that take full effect on Nov. 6. “There were some voters who expressed opposition,” Scanlan said.
The League of Women Voters and the New Hampshire chapter of the Civil Liberties Union reported receiving complaints from voters in nearly two dozen communities after the primary, and said they were considering court challenges to the law.
Scanlan said as of Monday the state had not been served any legal papers, nor notified of any lawsuits.
“There’ve been rumors out there,” he said, “but that’s all they are.”