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NH House votes to repeal tougher voter photo ID requirements

March 21. 2013 4:49PM

CONCORD -- The House wants to repeal stricter requirements for the state’s voter photo ID law that will go into effect in September.

Strictly along party lines, it voted 184-122 Thursday for House Bill 595, which would repeal changes in the law passed last year that requires voters to present a photo identification to vote, or to fill out an affidavit. The bill now heads to the Senate, which has tabled a similar bill.

The vote came after the House defeated, 180-126, a proposed Republican amendment that would have kept in tact a requirement that a town or city clerk or checklist supervisor take a photograph of a voter who does not have an acceptable photo identification.

Under the bill passed by the House on Thursday, acceptable identifications for the November 2012 election, such as student and business IDs, would continue.

The photo identification law is projected to cost the state about $450,000 over the next two years.

Opponents of the bill questioned why the law was being changed when the data collected from the November election had yet to be compiled and analyzed.

But supporters of the repeal said the upcoming changes would allow a person to legally register to vote with a photo ID that is not valid to obtain a ballot to vote.

Last year, lawmakers overrode then-Gov. John Lynch’s veto of the law, which was a combination of a Senate plan that had his support and the backing of local election officials, and a more restrictive House plan that limited acceptable photo IDs to state- or federally-issued identification.

Earlier the House overwhelmingly killed a bill that would repeal all photo voter identification requirements.

Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, arguing for his amendment requiring to be taken by election officials, said that without a photo, it is virtually impossible for law enforcement officials to track down voter fraud.

“If someone is thinking about committing voter fraud and if they know their picture is going to be taken, they’re going to think twice about that,” he said.

He said his proposal was “not draconian” and “not unreasonable” and “is something we should be doing.”

But Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton, said Jasper’s claim that there were about 3,000 suspicious voters in the last election “are absolutely untrue.”

Stricter photo identification requirements, said Richardson, “puts a dampening on one’s freely exercising a right to vote.”

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