CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A new law creating a provisional ballot system in New Hampshire faces lawsuits days after it was enacted.
The ACLU of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit Tuesday arguing that the law violates the right to privacy the state added to its constitution in 2018 because it would diminish the secrecy of ballots and tie voters’ names to the candidates for whom they voted.
The bill signed into law by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu on Friday creates a new type of “affidavit ballot” for first-time voters who don’t have required documents.
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.
Under the new law, which takes effect in 2023, ballots cast by voters who fail to provide proof of their identities and residency seven days after an election would be thrown out. Municipalities would report to the secretary of state total votes, minus the unqualified affidavit ballot votes, no later than 14 days after an election.
“The government should not know who you cast your ballot for in a state election,” said Henry Klementowicz, senior staff attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “Voting is one of the most important democratic things a person can do, and they deserve to do so privately and secretly.”
The law also faces a court challenge from the advocacy groups 603 Forward and Open Democracy Action.
While provisional ballots are required by federal law, New Hampshire is exempt because it offered same-day voter registration at the time the National Voter Registration Act was enacted in 1993. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Idaho and Minnesota are the only other two states that do not issue provisional ballots.