Gov. John Lynch on Thursday vetoed the Voter ID bill passed by the House and Senate earlier this year.
"The right to vote is a fundamental right that is guaranteed to all citizens of this State under the United States and New Hampshire Constitutions," Lynch said in his veto message. "Our election laws must be designed to encourage and facilitate voting by all eligible voters in New Hampshire."
in order to vote in person in a municipal, state and federal election beginning with this September's primary. Under the final version of the bill, acceptable forms of photo identification for this year's elections would have included a driver's license from any state, a non-driver's ID card, a U.S. armed forces ID card, a U.S. passport, any other valid photo ID issued by federal, state, county or municipal government, a valid student identification, and any other photo identification deemed to be legitimate by election officials.
Lynch, a Democrat, said he was prepared to support this form of photo ID because it "would ensure that every eligible voter who went to the polls on Election Day was able to cast a ballot that would be counted." But he said the Legislature adopted a more restrictive list of valid photo identifications to be used in elections beginning in Sept. of 2013, which he said is "far more restrictive than necessary."
He also objected to language in the final version of the bill that required voters who lack photo ID to execute a voter affadavit, which he said should only be required for those not already registered to vote.
"It is completely inappropriate for use by a registered voter on Election Day in order to establish the voter's identity to vote," Lynch said.
House Speaker William O'Brien and House Majority Leader Peter Silva issued a statement this afternoon decrying Lynch's veto of the Voter ID bill.
"The vast majority of New Hampshire voters will be disappointed to learn that in one of his last acts on legislation, this Governor has chosen to favor his party’s discrimination mythology about voters being asked for photo identification instead of supporting a common sense solution to the pressing need to ensure honest elections," O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon said. He called the Voter ID bill "a well-structured approach to ensuring clean elections," and called on all candidates for governor to take a position in support of the legislation.
Silva, R-Nashua, said the House will work to override the governor's veto next week. In a time when people have to show ID to get on a plane, bus or to enter a federal building, he said requiring voters to present identification is "not a major imposition."
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and bill sponsor Sen. Russell Prescott also issued a statement responding to the governor's veto.
Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said he was "disappointed" by Lynch's decision.
Prescott, R-Kingston, pledged to work with the governor, the House, and the Secretary of State to address Lynch's concerns in the next week "so that this bill may move forward."
The Voter ID bill was one of four bills vetoed by the governor on Thursday. He also vetoed
"Under this bill, the number of potential marijuana cultivation sites is virtually unlimited," Lynch said in his veto message. "The distribution of marijuana under SB 409 cannot effectively be controlled, with the result being the proliferation of marijuana for medical use."