LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OPPOSES LEGISLATION LIMITING VOTING RIGHTS

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire League of Women Voters testified before the New Hampshire House Election Law Committee on January 24th urging them to oppose House Bill 32, legislation that would make it more difficult for citizens to vote.
Jane Armstrong, president of the League, said, "New Hampshire law already provides adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of elections and this bill will place so many obstacles in the way of voting, that it will actually prevent eligible citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote.
HB32 requires that a state or federal government-issued photo identification be produced in order to obtain a ballot. Those who don't have a government-issued ID like the blind, handicapped, elderly,young, poor and new residents would have to fill out an affidavit at the polls every Election Day.
"Filling out an affidavit for every election would be an unreasonable burden for everyone, especially the blind and handicapped," said Armstrong.  She added that the provision that people without photo identification could vote if they were personally known to poll workers "is a recipe for political cronyism. It puts a poll worker's range of acquaintances above a citizen's right to vote."
         The following is the text of the testimony submitted to the Election Law Committee:
The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed.  The League was created in 1920 following the struggle to get the vote for women.  As members of an organization founded by those who struggled to get the right to vote for women, we are conscious that this struggle continues today.  For the past 87 years, the organization has worked at every level of government to guarantee the rights of citizens to vote.
To quote from Governor Lynch, "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 unnecessary barriers to voting.  We should be encouraging people to vote, not discouraging them."
The League supports assuring that our elections are fair and above board.  And New Hampshire has a long and proud tradition of conducting well-run and clean elections.  The Department of Justice's report on the 2004 election 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."
Based on our observations of this Election Law Committee and a reading of the legislation, the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire urges you to OPPOSE HB32: An act requiring photo identification to obtain a ballot.
New Hampshire currently has stringent rules governing voter registration procedures.  Rather than adopt the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, New Hampshire chose to adopt its own election process, a system that differs from all 49 other states.  Congress allowed the state to do this with the caveat that it provide election-day registration.
To register to vote in New Hampshire, applicants must provide documentation and go through a process that is more rigorous than many other states.  This bill, HB32, adds an additional level of documentation in order for a person who has met the requirements to register to vote, to actually be able to obtain a ballot and vote.
HB32 requires that a state or federal government-issued photo identification be produced in order to obtain a ballot.  Those who don't have a government-issued ID like the blind, handicapped, elderly, young, poor and new residents would have to fill out an affidavit at the polls every Election Day.  Filling out an affidavit for every election would be an unreasonable burden for everyone, especially the blind and handicapped.
Additionally, HB32 allows those who do not have sufficient identification to vote if a poll worker recognizes them.  This is a recipe for political cronyism.  It puts a poll worker's range of acquaintances above a citizen's right to vote.
Current New Hampshire law already provides opportunities for anyone to challenge a voter's identification at the polling place.  Because voting is guaranteed as a right in the 14th, 15th, 19th and 26th amendments to the Constitution, any challenge of a citizen who is registered to vote should place the burden on the challenger, not on the person exercising the Constitutional right to vote.
The League of Women Voters believes HB32 will discourage citizens from exercising their right to vote.  We also believe New Hampshire law already provides adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of elections and that this bill will place so many obstacles in the way of voting, that it will actually prevent eligible citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote. We, therefore, urge you to OPPOSE HB32.