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GOP may consider compromise on Voter ID photo requirement

CONWAY — Republican lawmakers could be open to compromise on the next phase of the voter ID law, a phase that will require election officials to photograph people who don't bring identification to the polls.

"The house and the senate had different positions" this past year when they were considering the voter ID law, Sen. Jeb Bradley said on Tuesday. "We did not in our version insist on the affidavit with a picture on it."

Bradley said he was familiar with concerns raised by town officials about intrusion and government overreach, but when it came time to compromise the senate acquiesced to the house version of the bill.

The result is election workers will be required to shoot photographs of any voter wishing to cast a ballot without an ID after September 2013 unless lawmakers opt to make a change.

Democrats have expressed interest in repealing the entire voter ID law, but it is the provision requiring poll workers to man cameras that has usually non-partisan election officials voicing concerns.

In the wake of such concerns, a second examination of the law might be worth it, Sen. Bradley said, calling it "a valid discussion."
Repeal of the entire law, however, is off the table for him.

"I'm not going to support that," he said.

Without the support of the senate, which is still controlled by Republicans, the Democratically controlled house has limited power.

Republican support of the voter ID law, according to Bradley, is based on anecdotal evidence. There is no evidence requiring identification limits voter fraud, he said, but this election will hopefully change that.

"As a deterrent I'm sure it's helpful," he said.

The law previously was "totally unenforceable," Bradley said. "You basically have to have a smoking gun" to charge someone with voter fraud.
In the last decade there have been three confirmed cases of voter fraud, but the state wasn't really looking for it, Bradley said.

But what about the possibility that voter fraud wasn't a problem in the first place, as the Democrats argue? Without an ID requirement, Bradley said, there is no way to know. He rejected the idea the law might show fraud isn't a problem in New Hampshire. The law will either prove there is fraud or it will prove the law is an effective deterrent against fraud. "It's not a perfect solution," he said, "but it's part of ensuring one person, one vote."

Democrats, however, have repeatedly argued the law does more to disenfranchise voters than it protects the democratic process.
Sen. Bradley said he doesn't want to discourage voting, but officials need to more checks in place. "It's one piece of hopefully solving a puzzle," he said. "It's not a silver bullet."

Lawmakers will know more after the Secretary of State's office and the Attorney General's office follow up with the thousands of voters who didn't bring IDs to the polls. "This really allows us to have a better idea what the scope of the problem is," he said.
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