WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, a New Hampshire judge dismissed a consolidated lawsuit brought on behalf of voting rights groups and individual voters challenging a 2022 voter suppression law that imposed new burdens on voters who register on Election Day.
Enacted by state Republicans under the guise of “restoring the integrity of New Hampshire elections,” Senate Bill 418 requires voters who register to vote for the first time on Election Day, but who lack a valid photo ID, to vote on an affidavit ballot that is distinct from a traditional ballot. The affidavit ballot is then separated from other completed ballots.
After the election, voters who cast an affidavit ballot have seven days to mail a photocopy of a qualified form of photo identification to the secretary of state in order for their votes to be counted. If the voters fail to do so, their votes are discarded from the official election results and their names are referred to the attorney general’s office for investigation and possible criminal penalties.
The legal challenges to S.B. 418 alleged that the statute violates multiple provisions of the New Hampshire Constitution by unduly burdening the right to vote, interfering with the right to privacy, creating multiple classes of voters and more.
Prior to the enactment of this law, New Hampshire voters who registered on Election Day could have their votes counted without having to provide photo identification. Instead, voters who lacked qualifying forms of identification could attest to their identity via a sworn statement. According to the New Hampshire Legislature, “[a]llowing unverified votes to count in an election enables the corruption of New Hampshire’s electoral process.”
In contrast, the plaintiffs asserted in court filings that “[t]here is no credible evidence that voter fraud is, in fact, a problem in New Hampshire. Yet, on this basis, SB 418 significantly alters New Hampshire’s election procedures to make it harder for new registrants to vote. The legislation was passed on a strictly party-line vote.”
In the order granting the New Hampshire secretary of state and attorney general’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Judge Charles C. Temple held that the plaintiffs lack standing to bring their claims. As a result of the order, S.B. 418’s affidavit ballot regime will remain in place and New Hampshire voters who register on Election Day will need to provide valid proof of photo identification in order to have their ballots counted.