Hi, There! Got an ID? Law Draws Little Notice at N.H. Polls
West Lebanon — Charlie Chapman entered the Kilton Library yesterday afternoon, passing by a collage of sample ballots and voter laws that covered a glass door in the entryway. He approached a table of poll workers.
“Hey, Charlie,” said Grace Dickerson, who was signing in those with “A” to “L” surnames.
“Oh,” he responded. “You don’t know me without picture ID, do you?”
They shared a laugh. He pulled out his driver’s license. He later said he knew everyone in the room.
Such was the pattern at the polls in West Lebanon yesterday, as the New Hampshire voter ID law’s inaugural Town Meeting elicited general indifference among voters. Outcry was more pronounced during last year’s presidential election season, when the law first went into effect, even though the November election came and went without much fuss in the Upper Valley.
Anyone who didn’t present identification yesterday could still vote after signing a “challenged voter affidavit,” a half-page form that asks voters to confirm they are who they say they are. The Secretary of State’s Office will then send them a verification letter, which requires response in 90 days. Failure to respond will trigger a voting fraud investigation by the attorney general, a document on display at the polls yesterday stated.
After Sept. 1, voters who do not show identification at the polls must sign the affidavit and get their photo taken by a poll worker, which will be added to the affidavit form.
At 3:15 p.m. yesterday, Linda Liang, Lebanon’s Ward 1 moderator, said only three out of 190 voters grumbled about the new policy so far.
“I think it’s something that they just object to,” Liang said. “Ladies, why do they object?”
She kicked the question to her fellow poll workers several feet away, but elicited few answers.
“Just on principle,” Dickerson said.
In the end, all three voters opposed to the new law ultimately showed identification, Liang said.
The pattern remained true in other New Hampshire towns, such as Grantham, where officials reported smooth sailing. Donna Stamper, supervisor of the checklist, estimated 15 people showed up without IDs. They filled out affidavits successfully, she said, and voted.
And then there were those who fulfilled the new requirement by complete chance.
“I didn’t know I had to (bring identification),” said Laura Wiltshire, who came out to vote with her husband, Shane. “It’s a good thing I brought mine. I didn’t know I had to have my license with me.”
The sense of agreeableness was par for the course yesterday, to the point that even those against it weren’t militantly so. A pair of people at the West Lebanon polls who declined to give their names said they weren’t thrilled with the law, but it wasn’t anything close to a deal breaker for voting. One called his own skepticism “old hat.”
“This is New Hampshire,” offered Greg Stott, who said he had no problem with the law. “Live free or die. People don’t like to be told what to do.”
Margaret Allen, who said she didn’t see a need for the law — she’s been going to the same polls for two decades — nonetheless shrugged it off.
“I don’t care, particularly,” she said as she exited the library yesterday, echoing much of the Ward 1 electorate. “It doesn’t affect me.”
Jon Wolper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3248. Staff writer Maggie Cassidy contributed to this report.