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Provisional ballot bill heads to governor; could face constitutional challenge

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Allegra Boverman for NHPR
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A bill that would require new voters in the state who register at the polls without identification to use a provisional ballot is headed to the desk of Gov. Chris Sununu.

The GOP-led State Senate on Thursday endorsed the House’s version of SB 418 along party lines. Under the bill, new voters in the state who register without proper identification would use a marked provisional ballot. If those voters failed to then provide proof of identity to the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office within 7 days, their ballots would be scrubbed and final vote tallies updated.

Warren Sen. Bob Giuda, a sponsor of the bill, predicted its effect will be minimal.

“This is not provisional balloting; this is, ballots count, then they get subtracted in the event that the person doesn’t meet the requirements of every other legitimate voter in the state,” he told colleagues.

Democrats called the change unneeded and predicted it will sow unnecessary doubt in the way elections are run in the state.

“There is nothing to indicate there is any fraud or that there should be nothing but confidence in our systems,” said Sen. Donna Soucy of Manchester.

Sununu had initially signaled opposition to the bill, in part because affidavit ballots could delay final election results by more than a week in a close race. He recently told reporters he is now comfortable with the plan, which has been narrowed to apply only to people who are registering to vote in New Hampshire for the first time.

The measure has the support of Sec. of State Dave Scanlan, but has faced criticism from some local election officials and voter advocacy groups as unnecessary. If signed into law, the measure could face a legal challenge.

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