New Hampshire Governor John Lynch must decide what to do with two bills that will affect the ability of the state’s college students to cast a ballot. The bills reflect the hostility to students that House Speaker William O’Brien displayed when he told an audience last year that young people are “foolish” and added that they “lack life experience” and “just vote their feelings.”
The state legislature passed a compromise voter ID bill last week that would include student IDs in the list of documents that could be used at the polls to vote this November but would eliminate them from the list starting in 2013. New Hampshire does not currently require voters to show ID at the polls.
Voter ID supporters in the state claim that the bill is necessary to prevent “voter fraud” but cannot provide evidence that voter fraud is a problem in New Hampshire. ID advocates point to a stunt in which James O’Keefe videotaped members of his team attempting to obtain ballots of dead people who remained on the voter rolls. However, they conveniently ignore the fact that state laws that make felons out of those who would cast such a ballot convinced O’Keefe’s team to walk away without voting.
In a June 27, 2011 veto message related to a previous ID bill, Gov. Lynch addressed the fraud claim: “Voter turnout in New Hampshire is among the highest in the nation, election after election. There is no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire. We already have strong elections laws that are effective in regulating our elections.”
The legislature also passed a bill aimed at students from out-of-state who are attending college in New Hampshire. The bill would change the definition of domicile for voting and add intimidating language to the registration form implying that a person now has to get a New Hampshire driver’s license and register their car in the state in order to lawfully vote there. Current law states that domicile for voting does not affect a person’s residence or other purposes, so registration forms do not try to convince students that they must jump through car-related bureaucratic hurdles to register and vote.
Supporters of the bills rushed them to Lynch’s desk in preparation for an override session because they will become law if the governor does not sign or veto them within five days of receiving them. If Lynch vetoes the bills, the legislature could consider overriding the vetoes during a session beginning on June 27.