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New Hampshire Requires ID on Primary Day, Despite Law Not Yet in Effect

The signs were everywhere. They told New Hampshire residents participating in Tuesday’s primary election to bring ID to the polls.

There’s only one problem: voter ID was not required for the primary election in the state of New Hampshire.

As Scott Keyes explains, the state did pass a voter ID law this year, over the veto of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. However, the law was designed to be phased in. For the primary election, voters were supposed to be asked for ID, but not required to hold it. Even in the general election, voters without ID will be able to sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility to vote and their identity. The lack of ID as a barrier to voting doesn’t hit until next year.

Yet here’s a sign, installed outside a polling place, claiming that ID is “required.” And several others were posted like this throughout New Hampshire.

The confusion extended to inside the polling place:

Ken Ward, a Democrat from Rollinsford running for the House, said election officials told him incorrectly he couldn’t vote without an ID yesterday morning. “I had one in my pocket, but I knew I didn’t have to produce it,” said Ward, 50.

Ward said more than half the officials knew him. Eventually, they told him to sign an affidavit, even though affidavits aren’t required yet, he said. Ward assented and said he doesn’t plan to file formal complaints.

In at least two cases, voters were turned away from the polls because they lacked ID. Again, under current New Hampshire law this is illegal. And it will remain illegal for the general election, when the stakes will be higher, given that New Hampshire is one of the 9 battleground states that will decide the election.

This is another facet to the war on voting. Not only do they attempt to disenfranchise high-propensity Democratic voters. The overall effect is one of confusion. Poll workers are poorly trained to administer election laws, especially ones with intricacies like the three-stage process in New Hampshire. And this almost always ends up disenfranchising more voters, rather than less.

There are solutions to this, but they almost all involve funding that states and the federal government would rather not provide. Even the funding for properly trained poll workers goes wanting. And we get the democracy we have.

CommunityThe Bullpen

New Hampshire Requires ID on Primary Day, Despite Law Not Yet in Effect

The signs were everywhere. They told New Hampshire residents participating in Tuesday’s primary election to bring ID to the polls.

There’s only one problem: voter ID was not required for the primary election in the state of New Hampshire.

As Scott Keyes explains, the state did pass a voter ID law this year, over the veto of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. However, the law was designed to be phased in. For the primary election, voters were supposed to be asked for ID, but not required to hold it. Even in the general election, voters without ID will be able to sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility to vote and their identity. The lack of ID as a barrier to voting doesn’t hit until next year.

Yet here’s a sign, installed outside a polling place, claiming that ID is “required.” And several others were posted like this throughout New Hampshire.

The confusion extended to inside the polling place:

Ken Ward, a Democrat from Rollinsford running for the House, said election officials told him incorrectly he couldn’t vote without an ID yesterday morning. “I had one in my pocket, but I knew I didn’t have to produce it,” said Ward, 50.

Ward said more than half the officials knew him. Eventually, they told him to sign an affidavit, even though affidavits aren’t required yet, he said. Ward assented and said he doesn’t plan to file formal complaints.

In at least two cases, voters were turned away from the polls because they lacked ID. Again, under current New Hampshire law this is illegal. And it will remain illegal for the general election, when the stakes will be higher, given that New Hampshire is one of the 9 battleground states that will decide the election.

This is another facet to the war on voting. Not only do they attempt to disenfranchise high-propensity Democratic voters. The overall effect is one of confusion. Poll workers are poorly trained to administer election laws, especially ones with intricacies like the three-stage process in New Hampshire. And this almost always ends up disenfranchising more voters, rather than less.

There are solutions to this, but they almost all involve funding that states and the federal government would rather not provide. Even the funding for properly trained poll workers goes wanting. And we get the democracy we have.

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David Dayen

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