Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture: NH to Photograph Voters Without ID

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[Image courtesy of danfinnen]

With all the talk recently about the wisdom and legality of selfies in the polling place, one state (New Hampshire) is not only encouraging but requiring photography in the polling place. The Sentinel Source has more:

Say “cheese.”

As voters will see at Keene’s municipal primary Tuesday, anyone who fills out a voter affidavit at New Hampshire polling places will have his or her photo taken with a Polaroid camera. 

Voter affidavit ballots — which affirm voters are who they say they are — are used when a resident doesn’t have a legal form of photo ID, such as drivers license, birth certificate, or passport. 

On average, fewer than one percent of New Hampshire voters use affidavits, according to N.H. Deputy Secretary of State David M. Scanlan.

The photo will be attached and filed with the affidavit, according to a news release from the city clerk’s office.

This new requirement — which went into effect on Sept. 1 — is part of New Hampshire’s voter ID law enacted in 2012, according to Scanlan.

The decision to use Polaroids may seem odd, but the state deliberately chose them to avoid problems with newer technology:

Polaroid cameras were chosen due to their simplicity and the low cost of the technology, according to Scanlan.

Though voter affidavits have been used in previous primaries and elections, the use of Polaroid photos is new, according to Scanlan. Before, election workers were not required to take photos of voters to go along with the affidavit, he said.

The instant cameras will keep election workers from having to go through the process of deleting the photo off a digital camera, which they would be required by law to do.

“In the case of Polaroid-style cameras, the image isn’t retained in the camera,” Scanlan said. “Sometimes low-tech is better.”

Not surprisingly, the state has had to consider the contingencies involving people who don’t want to be photographed:

Those who refuse to have their photo taken will not have their affidavit approved and thus, will not be given a ballot, he said. There are some exceptions to this rule, however.

If the ward’s moderator, clerk or checklist supervisor personally knows the voter, he or she can vote without filling out the affidavit or having a photo taken, according to the release.

Those whose religious beliefs discourage or prevent them from having their photo taken can also fill out another form that would allow them to be exempt from the photo requirement.

Affidavit voters will be contacted after the election to confirm that they cast a ballot and will have 30 days to respond. It isn’t clear, however, how the photo fits in – if voters will be sent the photo or how else it will be used. I’ll be curious to see how this works in practice – both at the point when voters are asked to smile for the camera and afterwards.

Still, in an increasingly digital world, this has to please the people who still make and sell Polaroid cameras.

Stay tuned.

1 Comment on "Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture: NH to Photograph Voters Without ID"

  1. Thak you for this informative post.

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