In New Hampshire, Voter ID Rumors Could Hurt Primary Turnout
Voting-rights groups in New Hampshire are worried that rumors could cause confusion among primary-goers and keep young Americans and the elderly from the polls today.
According to the Huffington Post, some groups are worried that prior threats to the residents’ voter-rights might have added enough grist to a rumor mill, leaving parts of the electorate confused and relying on false information.
Despite Gov. John Lynch vetoing every bill that would have required voters to present a photo ID this year, some media outlets including NBC Nightly News listed New Hampshire as one state that would be adopting new voter ID laws. Like a rapid game of “telephone,” smaller news outfits disseminated the information to their local readers.
A recent report by the League of Women Voters found that, of 330 towns, a whopping 300 have their own websites that are either polluted with either false, incomplete, or no information about the state’s current laws.
Melissa Bernardin, the New Hampshire political and field director for America Votes, told Huffington Post: “One might argue that even though the bill did not pass, photo ID supporters will have a partial victory if they are successful enough confusing voters who do not have photo ID."
According to America Votes, those who will most likely be affected by the blanket of misinformation in this primary are the 30,000 to 50,000 individuals who do not have a government issued ID, which disproportionally includes the young and the elderly.
While it isn’t uncommon for some voters to be confused about their rights at the polls, Joan Flood Ashwell, an election law specialist at the League of Women Voters, told Huffington Post that the most recent and aggressive campaign to change voter ID laws complicates the issue:
We've always had that on an informal level. There are people who have always been writing letters to the editor, or go around and have meetings with groups of people that are spreading misinformation. That's been a problem for years and years. Now the problem is all these rumors of new requirements and all these different pieces of legislation. They've all been defeated, but the constant introduction of new laws is confusing people.
Recently, the Justice Department rejected South Carolina’s Voter ID law calling it discriminatory toward “minority” citizens—primarily African-Americans, the poor, college students, the elderly, and other groups that face difficulty procuring state-issued identification.
A complete list of Voter ID requirements from state to state is available here from the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Naima Ramos-Chapman is an associate editor at Campus Progress.
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