New Hampshire Senate passes ‘affidavit ballot’ bill

March 31, 2022 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Ballots cast by voters who fail to provide proof of their identities and residency within 10 days of an election would be thrown out under a bill approved by the state Senate on Thursday.

The bill, which was sent to the House, would create a new type of “affidavit ballot” for those who vote without the required documents. Ten days after the election, towns would subtract any votes cast by those who had failed to send the documents to the secretary of state.

Under current, law, such voters fill out affidavits promising to provide documentation within 10 days, and those who don’t can be investigated and charged with fraud. But the votes themselves remain valid.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, said he has heard from constituents who say they have stopped voting in the face of increased fraud. But state election officials say there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

“How can people have confidence in an election process that allows anyone in the world to come here to vote?” Giuda said.

The 13-11 vote fell largely along party lines, though Sen. Ruth Ward, R-Stoddard, joined Democrats in voting no. Opponents countered that the bill was unnecessary and unconstitutional. They also argued that it would violate voter privacy in small towns where only a few affidavit ballots were cast.

“How does it instill confidence in our elections to announce the results of an election and then 10 days later, different results?” said Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, D-Portsmouth.

Meanwhile, the House tabled a bill that would have required all towns and cities to count ballots by hand instead of electronic tabulators. The move essentially kills the legislation because Thursday was the deadline for the House and Senate to act on bills that originated in their respective chambers.

The push for hand-counting ballots in New Hampshire and at least five other states comes amid mistrust of elections among many Republicans who believe the false narrative that widespread fraud cost former President Donald Trump reelection in the 2020 presidential contest.