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July 25. 2013 9:35PM

College photo IDs will be valid as voter identification

CONCORD — College photo IDs will be valid under the state's voter identification law after Gov. Maggie Hassan signed House Bill 595 Wednesday.

House Bill 595 repeals changes to the state's photo ID law that would have been effective in September, including eliminating all state- and federally-issued identifications as valid voting IDs.

With HB 595, the law will continue to include college and other student IDs, as well as identification cards issued by the state university system, Dartmouth College, and by public and accredited non-public high schools.

Other valid IDs will continue to include a driver's license, an armed services identification card, or a United States passport.

The bill also allows election officials to verify the identity of any prospective voter who does not present a valid ID.

A resident without a valid ID will still be able to vote but will have to fill out an affidavit swearing to his or her identity.Current law requires local election officials to photograph those without a valid ID after September, but the new law delays that requirement until September 2015. Lawmakers expect to introduce legislation next year to eliminate the controversial provision local election officials fear will lead to long lines on election days.

In 2012, the then Republican-controlled legislature approved a photo identification requirement to vote similar to what 31 other states require.

Former Gov. John Lynch vetoed the bill but the House and Senate overrode his veto.

As a gubernatorial candidate, Hassan called for repealing the photo ID law, but said after lawmakers approved HB 595 it was an improvement over the law passed in 2012.

Democrats have argued the law's intent is to disenfranchise legal voters by suppressing the voter turnout by the elderly, disabled, poor, minorities and college students.

But Republicans claim the measure is needed to protect against voter fraud and to restrict voting to a community's legal residents.

Prison bill

Hassan signed a law allowing the superintendents of county jails to release prisoners for work, rehabilitation, to perform public service or serve their sentence under home confinement.

Under House Bill 224, a court could negate the release if a hearing is held and the judge objects.

One bill remains

Hassan has yet to act on one remaining bill from the 2013 session, House Bill 542, which deals with the state's renewable energy fund, the regulation of telephone and Voice over Internet Protocol services, and the state's electric renewable portfolio standards.Hassan has until Thursday to decide what to do with the bill or it becomes law without her signature Friday.

The bill changes the state's renewable energy fund to set aside money for municipal and other local governments, and low-income residents for energy efficiency projects.

The legislation also clarifies that landline and VoIP telephone services are not regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission, and changes the hierarchy of the state's renewable energy portfolio.

grayno@unionleader.com


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