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Justice Dep't approves New Hampshire voter ID law

The Justice Department approved New Hampshire's new voter ID, a version that is stricter than existing rules in the Granite State, but not as restrictive as other voters ID laws that the DOJ has rejected.'

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Under New Hampshire's previous rules, no ID was required as a condition of voting. Ballot clerks checked the names that voters announced at the polls, read back the addresses for verification, and handed over a ballot.

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Under the state's new law, voters must present a photo ID -- a driver's license, a voter ID card, a military ID card, a US passport, a student ID card, a photo ID issued by any level of government, and any other photo ID deemed legitimate by supervisors at the polls.

A year from now, the list of acceptable ID's will be narrowed to a driver's license, a non-driver ID card, military ID, or passport.  But voters unable to produce the required identification can sign an affidavit, attesting to their identity, and cast a regular ballot. Beginning next year, any voter doing so will also be photographed.

New Hampshire's list of acceptable IDs as of 2013 is actually more restrictive than the set of IDs Texas would have accepted under that state's voter ID law, which a federal court blocked last week.

So why the difference? It seems New Hampshire's decision to also make it possible for voters without the proper ID to cast a regular ballot, provided they sign an affidavit and have their picture taken, allowed enough leeway.

The Voting Rights Act requires federal approval for election law changes in states with a history of discrimination against minority voters.  Most of the states subject to the law are in the South.  New Hampshire's change required approval because 10 townships in the state are covered by the act, even though the entire state is not.