Short hits: Voting laws in Michigan and New Hampshire

Particularly after the Republicans won big in 2010, they adopted restrictive voting policies in a number of states. In Maine, Republicans voted to do away with election day voter registration. Despite (wholly unproven) fraud claims by state party chair Charlie Webster which prompted investigations by Secretary of State Charlie Summers, in November 2011 Maine people voted for election day registration by a 60-40% margin.

And here’s some news on the voting law front in two states.

1. In Michigan, where people have to register before election day, Republicans are trying to make registration harder. 

Michigan’s bills attack the League of Women Voters by requiring some volunteers to attend state-approved training sessions before they can register voters. The catch is that the bill makes no provisions for such sessions. . . It does threaten them with penalties for registration offenses that aren’t specified.

The bill is modeled on Florida’s, parts of which a federal judge invalidated May 31 because he said they had “no purpose other than to discourage” constitutionally protected activity.

2. In New Hampshire, Democratic Governor Lynch vetoed legislation from the Republican legislature that requires voters present a photo id or sign a “qualified voter affidavit.”

A veto override is in the works and news reports indicate that, while the House will override, this is much less likely in the Senate, especially if the bill remains in its current form.

Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said he would push for the Senate next week to pass a corrections bill to satisfy the governor’s concern by substituting the use of the qualified voter affidavit with a simpler challenged voter affidavit, which is now used to challenge a person’s qualifications to vote. A corrections bill, if approved by the Senate, would go to the House for a vote and on to the governor to sign or veto, he said. . .

Without the corrections bill, Prescott said he wouldn’t support the override and didn’t know if the Senate would either. Sixteen votes are needed and 17 senators backed the measure at the last vote.

Last year a similar bill was passed. Gov. Lynch vetoed it. The House overrode the veto but the Senate did not.

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Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.