The bill passed by the House last week requiring voters to produce a photo ID before being able to cast a ballot is another in a list of hare-brained schemes concocted by lawmakers who are more concerned about politics than statecraft.
The bill, which passed the House a week ago in a 243-111 vote, is an amended version of a similar bill that passed the Senate. Before last week’s action, a House committee had amended the Senate bill to remove a provision that would let election officials take digital photos at the polling place of voters without the required ID. Instead, the version passed by the House would allow voters without the required ID to vote by provisional ballot and return within three days with ID in order for the ballot to be counted.
There are a number of reasons this bill should be defeated. One is that holding ballots in abeyance for three days while the voter attempts to obtain an acceptable photo ID would be a headache for local election officials who would have to wait to officially report results to the Secretary of State’s Office until all the validity of the provisional ballots was resolved. To make matters worse, this three-day waiting period doesn’t mesh with current laws dealing with recounts.
But a far bigger reason to scuttle this bill is that is it unnecessary. The bill’s sponsors say the measure is needed to stop voter fraud. But Secretary of State Bill Gardner has testified that, based on his many years of experience, voter fraud is not a problem in the Granite State. The last time anyone made serious allegations of voter fraud was in the 1980 presidential primary from supporters of fringe candidate Lyndon Larouche who, following Larouche’s 4 percent showing, demanded a recount on grounds crooked polling place officials had rigged the results.
When confronted with the fact that no election officials — state or local — see voter fraud as a problem, this bill’s supporters take a fall-back position that the photo ID requirement is needed to remove the appearance of fraud.
If there is currently an appearance of fraud in our state’s elections, then that would cast a pall over last November’s elections. So does that mean that supporters of the photo ID bill doubt the legitimacy of the election that put them in office?
The talk of the enhancing the integrity of the voting process is nothing more than a pretense. Sadly, what we are seeing in this bill is a ham-handed effort to disenfranchise some voters who very possibly would not vote for a Republican.