When it comes to voting in New Hampshire, the state’s system is “No Photo? No ID? No problem!” Few Granite Staters realize it, but in New Hampshire, it is completely legal to both register to vote and to cast a ballot without ever showing an I.D.
Just ask David Scanlon, Deputy Secretary of State. NHJournal put these questions to him:
Is it true that you can register to vote in New Hampshire without a photo ID? That you can sign an affidavit in lieu of identification?
“Yes, and yes,” said Scanlon.
Is it true that you can vote in person without a photo ID? That an affidavit is acceptable in that case as well?
“Yes. However, if a voter obtains a ballot by signing an affidavit they must also have their photo taken. The one exception to that provision is for religious reasons,” Scanlon said.
That’s one of the issues NHGOP lawmakers hope to fix with their new election reform legislation.
“Many New Hampshire voters will be surprised to learn that just because a poll worker asks them to present an ID that they do not actually have to show it,” State Rep. Ross Berry, sponsor of H.B. 535, told NHJournal. “They may simply sign an affidavit, which is a piece of paper, and then they will be handed a ballot. This system, coupled with not having a photo ID requirement for those registering on Election Day, has earned New Hampshire the position of having the loosest election laws in the country.”
Berry’s legislation would change the law to match what most Granite Staters assume it already does: require an ID to vote. It would close the “affidavit” loophole, and it would force people who register on Election Day without any ID to cast a provisional ballot.
A solid majority of Americans support requiring an ID to vote, multiple polls show. The alternative is people who’ve never shown any ID at any point in the process casting ballots in New Hampshire.
Democrats support the no-ID-requirement as is.
“HB 535, sponsored by Ross Berry, a former executive director of the state’s Republican Party, would eliminate the use of voter qualification affidavits by voters who lack any piece of the required documentation for voter registration,” former NH Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan wrote in a recent Union-Leader op-ed. “This bill would impose a burden on any individual without government-issued identification or who has a changing or new place of residence.”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that given the choice between voter persuasion and voter suppression, there will be New Hampshire Republican legislators who choose suppression over persuasion every time,” she added.
Does Sullivan believe deep blue states like New York or Massachusetts are practicing voter suppression? Neither of them allow same-day voter registration.
As for complaints that voter ID places an undue burden on voters, the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office lists many different types of documents that will satisfy the proof of residency requirement:
Here are just a few examples:
- A New Hampshire driver’s license or non-driver ID showing your current domicile address.
- A document from the school that you attend, showing that you live in campus housing.
- A rental agreement, lease, or similar document that shows your name and the address of your domicile.
- A document showing that you own the place you are domiciled at, such as a deed, property tax bill, or other similar document that has your name and address.
- A note from a homeless shelter or other service provider located in the town or ward where you will vote that confirms they will receive U.S. mail sent to you at that address.
Granite State Democrats mock the idea that there’s a serious election fraud problem in the state, pointing to the rare instances that it has occurred.
Berry believes requiring proof that voters actually live in the Granite State will curb possible fraud in elections.
“The fact is that while there may be limited abuse, we do know that there is abuse and our electoral system does little-to-nothing to stop it,” Berry added.