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State of Democracy's coverage of campaign finance and the role money is playing in the 2016 New Hampshire primary and beyond.0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8ee60000

Republicans Pursue Changes To N.H. Voter Registration, Campaign Fundraising Laws

Logan Shannon/NHPR

The Republican-led New Hampshire Senate has voted to back its own versions of House plans to overhaul the state’s campaign finance system, and to add a photo-requirement for people who register at the polls without state-approved identification.

The bills are among several GOP-backed bills this year that seek to modify current laws around voting and elections.

State laws on campaign spending haven’t seen significant change since the 1990s. Rochester Sen. Jim Gray, chairman of the Senate Election Law Committee, pitched the bills as efforts to modernize how New Hampshire conducts campaigns and elections.

“These take a small step towards providing an even playing field for all who wish to run for office,” Gray said.

Under the campaign finance bill, the state would end its voluntary spending cap program and bar candidates from collecting campaign donations before they file.

The bill would also double the limit – from $5,000 to $10,000 – on what individuals can give non-candidate political committees.

Those provisions are also featured in the plan that cleared the Republican-controlled House.

The photo-requirement bill would force voters who register on Election Day without a photo ID to have their picture taken. The photo would be affixed to an affidavit attesting to the voter’s identity and kept on file. 

While Republicans say the change could improve the integrity of New Hampshire elections, Democrats, like Portsmouth Sen. Rebecca Perkins-Kwoka, questioned the policy’s utility.

“This is a solution looking for a problem,” she said. “So we just don’t see a need to add a new requirement to the voter registration process.”

For these bills to reach the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu, the House and Senate must reach agreement on final language. 

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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