Election officials sorting out voter ID law
With new rules in place encouraging people to bring a picture ID to the polls when they vote in Tuesday’s election, officials in many towns are working to make the process as painless as possible.
According to a letter from Assistant Attorney General Matthew Mavrogeorge that was sent to the town of Peterborough on Oct. 16, New Hampshire law now requires ballot clerks to request that voters present photo identification when they check-in at the polling place. Types of identification that satisfy the requirement include a driver’s license from any state, even if expired; an ID card issued by the N.H. Department of Motor Vehicles; a non-driver photo ID from any state, even if expired; a U.S. armed services ID; a U.S. passport, even if expired; any other valid photo ID card issued by federal, state, county or municipal government; a valid student ID; and other photo ID deemed legitimate by the supervisors of the checklist, the moderator or the clerk.
Voters are not required to have a photo ID for this election.
“If a voter does not have sufficient photo identification, he or she is still able to vote and have their ballot counted with all other ballots on Election Day so long as they sign a challenged vote affidavit,” Mavrogeorge wrote. He recommended that a “No Photo ID” table be place near the entrance to the polls so voters who need to fill out an affidavit can do so before getting into the check-in line.
“Under no circumstances should a voter be turned away at the time and place of check-in for failing to present sufficient photo identification,” Mavrogeorge wrote. “If a voter does not present photo identification when checking in to vote, they should not be told to go get such identification in order to vote. Rather, they must be given the opportunity to sign a challenged voter affidavit.”
Another alternative to signing a challenged voter affidavit, in which a voter swears to his or her identity under penalty for voter fraud, is for the person’s identity to be verified by the moderator, a supervisor of the checklist, or the town clerk, but not by a ballot clerk.
During a Tuesday meeting with the Select Board, Peterborough Town Clerk Linda Guyette said voters would be met at either entrance to the Town House by an election official, who would ask if they have a photo ID. Those who don’t will be directed to a table where challenged voter affidavits can be filled out and then they can join the check-in line.
Guyette said if someone had no photo ID and refused to fill out a challenged voter affidavit, they would be directed to the moderator, but they might not be allowed to vote.
In an email to the Ledger-Transcript on Wednesday, Jaffrey Town Clerk Maria Chamberlain said a recent Superior Court ruling that blocked new voter registration requirements has caused some confusion. Earlier this month, a Strafford County Superior Court judge ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to remove a paragraph about residency laws from the voter registration form. That ruling was in response to challenges from college students and civil liberties groups. On Monday, the N.H. Supreme Court declined to reconsider its earlier refusal to block that lower court ruling. But the court case only applies to voter registration and has no impact on the check-in process at the polls.
“The requirement for voters to show ID is in effect,” Chamberlain wrote. “ A voter who does not possess a valid ID may vote on Nov. 6, if they execute an affidavit or have their identity verified by the moderator, clerk, or supervisor of the checklist. Voters with questions are encouraged to contact their municipal clerk or moderator. “
Dublin Town Clerk Jeannine Dunne said Wednesday that a separate table will be set up for those who need to sign affidavits.
“We’re hoping things will go smoothly. Not everyone knows about the new law. But in a small town like Dublin, we should be fine.”