A new lawsuit has been filed against a brand new, GOP-backed law in New Hampshire that could make voting more difficult for overseas military personnel or those without certain identification.
The case names New Hampshire officials including Secretary of State David Scanlan and Attorney General John Formella as defendants and was filed by 603 Forward; Open Democracy Action; Louise Spencer, co-founder of Kent Street Coalition; Edward Friedrich, a prior 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps; and Jordan Thompson, executive director of Black Lives Matter Nashua. Under the challenged law, which goes into effect at the beginning of next year (meaning after the midterm elections), “a first-time voter registering to vote on election day who does not have a valid photo identification must vote an affidavit ballot,” InDepthNH.org explains.
The process doesn’t end there: affected residents must provide appropriate identification within seven days of an election, or their votes could be kept out of official tabulations while the voters themselves will be referred to the state Attorney General’s office for investigation — and could face criminal penalties. Olivia Zink, who serves as executive director at Open Democracy, remarked regarding this: “New Hampshire already has an incredibly secure voter registration and election process. SB 418 is a solution in search of a problem, and will infringe on the ability of students, those moving to New Hampshire, and our overseas military to cast their votes.”
The new lawsuit alleges the New Hampshire measure is in violation of the state Constitution in New Hampshire. It says the law will create “unreasonable and unnecessary obstacles for first-time, same-day registrants, including voters who have recently moved into the State of New Hampshire, as well as voters who traditionally have greater difficulty obtaining state-approved photo identification.”
The 7-day delay of the final election results built into the process established by the law via the provisions requiring officials to wait that long until certain voters may turn in appropriate identification might violate provisions in the state Constitution demanding the delivery of election results to the secretary of state’s office five days following an election. As with similar legislation against also oppressive measures backed by Republican officials, those behind this case are hoping to permanently stop the implementation of the law.
“The bill has also garnered criticism from members of the military over concerns that it will disenfranchise people voting abroad,” a New Hampshire news source called Hollis Brookline News Online says about related concerns. “New Hampshire is required by the federal Uniformed And Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to mail ballots to members of the military serving abroad 45 days before an election. Given New Hampshire’s late primary date, the primary election falls 56 days before the [general]. But this bill allows an additional 14-day period for the state to finalize ballots, which could put the state over the federal deadline by three days.” Thus, by the time ballots are supposed to be going out to military voters overseas for general elections, New Hampshire might still not be done dealing with their primary results because of the provisions of this new law.