A bill requiring voters to show photo identification is heading to Gov. John Lynch's desk, where it could meet his veto pen.
The New Hampshire House and Senate both passed Senate Bill 289 on Wednesday. The House passed it 255-103. The Senate quickly followed, 17-6.
Republican supporters say it would go a long way to curb voter fraud in the state. Lynch, who said in his veto of a similar bill in 2011 that in the Granite State, has concerns with parts of the bill.
House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, called it a "voter suppression" bill. Other critics, such as the , have said it will unfairly affect the poor, the elderly and minorities in the state.
The final bill combines the Senate and House versions, with the Senate language designed to go in effect this fall. The stricter House language, which would go into effect in 2013, would require a voter without proper photo ID to sign a qualified voter affidavit and be photographed at the polls by an election official.
Speaking in support of the bill on the House floor Wednesday, state Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, told colleagues to pass the bill because Secretary of State Bill Gardner said he could "live with the bill."
Other speakers did not speak directly to whether or not voter fraud exists in New Hampshire, but rather to the perception that it exists. That perception was reinforced during the New Hampshire Presidential Primary on Jan. 10, when James O'Keefe and his at various polling places, including some in Nashua.
New Hampshire is one of 19 law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracked a surge in similar voter reforms in states in recent years.
The House version of the bill further excited critics because it would not recognize college IDs as a qualified form of ID in 2013. The photo ID requirements in the House bill would recognize:
- A driver's license issued by a state or the federal government.
- An ID card issued by the director of the state Division of Motor Vehicles, under RSA 260:21.
- A U.S. Armed Services ID card.
- A U.S. Passport
- And the qualified voter affidavit, as prescribed in the proposed law.
Voter ID bills have come up in previous legislative sessions. It became a priority this year for House Speaker William O'Brien, the Mont Vernon Republican who captured the gavel after 2010 with large Tea Party support. Sponsors of the 2012 bill include Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, and Deputy House Speaker Pamela Tucker, R-Greenland.