Some find fault with voter ID law in General Election

  • Voter Sheilla Parkerson of Jaffrey, who is accompanied by her daughter Sheylina and son Drake, hands voters her ID on Tuesday afternoon prior to casting her ballot at the VFW in Jaffrey.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voter Sheilla Parkerson of Jaffrey, who is accompanied by her daughter Sheylina and son Drake, hands voters her ID on Tuesday afternoon prior to casting her ballot at the VFW in Jaffrey.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Voter Sheilla Parkerson of Jaffrey, who is accompanied by her daughter Sheylina and son Drake, hands voters her ID on Tuesday afternoon prior to casting her ballot at the VFW in Jaffrey.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Voter Delma Ouellette of Jaffrey, who turned 105-years-old just a couple of weeks ago, shows her voter ID before casting her ballot at the polls at the VFW in Jaffrey on Tuesday.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

For many voters, the new voter ID law, requiring voters to either show identification or fill out an affidavit confirming their identity, is merely a minor inconvenience. They simply flash their driver’s licence, or one of the other forms of identification accepted by the law, and continue on their way to the polls.

Other voters are not so sanguine, however, and Paul Walker of New Ipswich is one of them. On Tuesday, he hadn’t forgotten his identification at the polls, but he chose to fill out an affidavit rather than show his ID to the ballot clerks.

“I signed a challenge affidavit because I think this whole voter ID law is just a way to keep people from voting,” said Walker after filling out his affidavit in the Mascenic High School gym on Election Day. “Statistically, there is a very minor number of people that engage in voter fraud, and to require everyone to show ID because of that number is farcical.”

In fact, said Walker, he would rather fill out an affidavit every time he comes to the polls from now on, rather than show identification. “I feel that strongly about it,” he said.

Other residents didn’t have any qualms about taking out their licenses on voting day. Lisa Meyer of New Ipswich didn’t even find it an inconvenience. “I don’t really care one way or the other,” she said at the polls Tuesday. “I’m just showing my licence.”

Other people agreed with Walker’s position, including Pete vonSneidern, chair of the Temple Democrats.

“It’s a waste of time,” said vonSneidern. “The Supreme Court has ruled that a $3 poll tax is an unacceptable burden to voters. And if a $3 poll tax is an unacceptable burden, then for people that don’t have access to documentation, it’s an impossible standard.”

Mark Mansfield of New Ipswich said the law didn’t sit right with him either, because he felt it discouraged voting.

Local ballot clerks and moderators at the polls Tuesday noted that while there were a small number of people who requested affidavits, the vast majority simply flashed their papers and moved along with the process. Some had even praised it as a fraud prevention tool, according to New Ipswich Moderator Earl Somero.

“We haven’t had many people that seem to object, and there are some that were glad to see it happen,” he said. Of the hundreds of people that had passed through the polls on Tuesday morning, less than 10 had been required to fill out an affidavit, he said, and, while among those there were exceptions such as Walker, the majority had simply forgotten to bring one.

Most towns reported few problems related to the new voter ID requirements, but a sign briefly posted at the polls in Peterborough raised some eyebrows. The message, posted on a bulletin board as voters entered, read, “To Vote: Although we may know you, state law now requires that you present an approved photo ID. Please be prepared to show your driver’s license or other approved photo ID to the ballot clerk. If you do not have valid photo ID, please let us know. Please verify your domicile address. Thank you for voting.”

The paper had no mention of the option to fill out a challenged voter affidavit. On Tuesday afternoon, Moderator Phil Runyon and Select Board Chair Barbara Miller said they didn’t know who had posted it. Runyon said the message was taken down once it was brought to his attention.

“No one’s been turned away,” Runyon said. “Everyone either had a valid ID or filled out the affidavit.”

Town Clerk Linda Guyette, who had met with the Select Board after getting a complaint about the voter registration process, said Tuesday that she had put up the notice.

“I don’t see the problem,” Guyette said, as she worked on tallying absentee ballots. “I purposefully left it vague. It was just to let people know about the law.”

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