Veto Message of Governor John H. Lynch Regarding House Bill 345

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

By the authority vested in me as Governor of New Hampshire, pursuant to Part II, Article 44 of the Constitution of New Hampshire, on May 5, 2006, I vetoed House Bill 345, an act requiring photo identification to obtain a ballot.

The right to vote is a fundamental right and is the bedrock of our democracy. Our responsibility as elected officials is to protect every citizen's constitutional right to vote and to ensure that any proposed changes to our voting system do not create nnecessary barriers to voting. We should be encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them.

New Hampshire has a long and proud tradition of conducting well-run and clean elections. On April 5, 2006, the Department of Justice issued a report on its investigation of alleged voter fraud during the November 2004 general election. That investigation was completed by trained investigators and state officials with expertise in election law from the Attorney General's Office and the Secretary of State's Office. The report concluded: "The results of our investigation reflect that there are very few instances of wrongful voting in New Hampshire, the overwhelming majority of which involve people who had a right to vote somewhere in New Hampshire. New Hampshire's local election officials are the front line of defense against voter fraud and our investigations support the conclusion that most local officials do an excellent job."

This report affirms that New Hampshire's elections are well run and already have the necessary safeguards in place to prevent wrongful voting.

Part I, Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution guarantees that all qualified voters have an equal right to vote in any election. I am concerned that House Bill 345 will prohibit eligible voters from receiving a ballot on election day and place significant burdens on election officials, resulting in delays for all voters.

In the absence of any evidence of a voter fraud problem in New Hampshire, where New Hampshire law already provides adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of elections, and given that House Bill 345 will create new and unnecessary barriers impinging on the right to vote, I am vetoing this bill.