DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

August 30, 2012

Editorial: Rapid rollout of voter law creates confusion

While its goals are laudable, legislators may not have considered fully the burdens their new Voter ID Law places on state and local government.

Local town clerks are busy registering new voters for the Sept. 11 primary and the general election in November. But they are also letting voters know about the requirements of the new law.

Londonderry Town Clerk Meg Seymour said Friday that she plans to attend a training session this week. Until then, she said, she is just advising new voters they will need a photo ID in the future.

“Right now, we’re crazy registering voters,” she said. “Everyone’s getting ready to go back to school.”

Gov. John Lynch vetoed a Voter ID bill in June. The Republican-led Legislature overrode the governor’s veto, then passed a “fix” bill that addressed some of his concerns. Lynch allowed the bill to become law without his signature.

Proponents argue that Voter ID is needed to allay public concerns about the integrity of our elections. Opponents argue that, while actual voter fraud is rare, the law may actually discourage legitimate voters from voting.

There are plenty of ways to address opponents’ concerns. Most basically, the state could provide free IDs to those do not have or cannot afford a photo identification. It seems little enough to do to bolster public confidence in elections.

Of greater concern is the pressure the rapid rollout of the new law places on local election officials.

Asking a sampling of Southern New Hampshire town clerks last week revealed many of them are just now getting up to speed themselves on the new law. Many voters are unaware of the requirements. The Secretary of State’s Office is running several training sessions to inform local election officials of the new law’s provisions.

Town clerks said they haven’t gotten very many, if any, questions from voters about the new law, but the Secretary of State’s Office is getting plenty.

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