CONCORD, NH –Some voters were turned away from the polls and others required to sign affidavits as New Hampshire’s test run of a new photo ID requirement for voting ended in failure today.
“The photo ID requirement has created huge headaches for election officials and Granite State voters,” said Josiette White, State Director of America Votes an organization that works on voting rights in the state. “This failed test run is only a glimmer of what will happen in November when more people go to the polls and are faced with confusion and closed doors.”
A new state law starting in November requires voters to present photo identification or sign an affidavit before casting a ballot; today’s test run was supposed to simply ask people for identification but still allow them to vote as normal.
However, with no designated funds for public education about the new requirements and process, chaos erupted at several polling locations demonstrating that New Hampshire isn’t prepared for this radical new law:
At polling locations around the state, voters were turned away for not having an ID and were asked to get their ID (from their car, from home) before they were given a ballot.
This overzealous approach is a clear indicator that the volunteers executing our elections don’t understand the “phase in” of this new law and are willing to turn away qualified voters for accessing the ballot.
Ballot clerks were giving out misinformation to voters – specifically that they are required to show an ID in November. The reality is that you do not need a photo ID to vote in NH. When questioned, clerks stated this was the short-hand explanation they were giving so they could convey the information quickly without holding up lines.
This is an especially concerning trend considering the state primary is a low turnout election; if clerks aren’t prepared to explain the law today, they are going to have a much more difficult time in a larger general election turnout.
The State of New Hampshire, as a whole, isn’t prepared for implementation. When Deputy SOS Dave Scanlon was asked about those without ID being able to get vouchers for a state ID, he indicated that the DMV is not prepared to provide these ID’s so no vouchers have been distributed, even though this law will be in effect in November.
“I called the Attorney General’s office this afternoon to report that a Manchester voter had been turned away without a ballot because they didn’t have their ID with them. They said they had been getting calls like this all day,” White said. “New Hampshire clearly isn’t prepared to implement this law without further disenfranchising Granite State voters.”
News coverage of the state’s Primary Day indicated a high level of frustration by voters and election officials alike.
Josiette White is available for comment this evening at (603) 545-4772.
Zandra Rice Hawkins is available for comment this evening at (603) 892-2150.