Election laws and the 2022 Session: What to know before primary

Posted at 5:26 PM, Apr 26, 2022

IDAHO — Idaho lawmakers introduced more than 60 election-relatedbills during this year's legislative session, but only a handful became law.

Gov. Brad Little signed 20 election-related bills this session — but nearly 40 failed to reach his desk.

“We faced an absolute onslaught of election-related bills this year,” said Democratic House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel of Boise.

Republican lawmakers said they wanted to ensure “election integrity,” but democrats said the bills were not necessary and would have made it harder for people to vote.

“Many of them I think we're very half-baked, not very well thought out and would have resulted in disenfranchising probably tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of perfectly legal citizens residing in Idaho,” Rubel said. "There was one that wouldn’t let you register to vote by mail if you had a PO box for example, which is huge amounts of rural Idaho.”

Big topics included absentee ballot drop boxes, party-affiliation deadlines and identification at the polls, which Rubel believes was driven by a national narrative.

Republican Rep. Priscilla Giddings proposed a bill that would have taken away absentee ballot boxes, requiring Idahoans to vote in person at the polls.

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“There's potential for arson or theft, that gets into security. In Idaho we don’t have standardized procedures for these boxes,” Giddings said on the House floor.

The bill stalled after bipartisan push-back and concerns about impacts on rural voters.

Republican Rep. Dorothy Moon also introduced a host of bills, including changes to ID requirements, eliminating same-day voter registration and party affiliation changes that failed to pass.

"Election integrity is a huge issue in this state,” Moon said during a committee hearing. “If one illegal vote gets in and cancels out your legal vote, that is wrong and that is a part of this election's integrity. As far as election is important, every single one is important, so when do we make the moves to make the changes to make sure that only legal votes are voting."

“Senate State Affairs took a look at these bills, realized they were not solving problems, but creating problems. We were very fortunate the chair of the senate state affairs committee really declined to hold hearings on many of them and when she did hold hearings, they failed to pass through the committee,” Rubel said.

Little did sign a new law that directs the Secretary of State to order post-election audits for certain election results to ensure election integrity and reinforce Idaho's clean election history.

So, for the primary coming up, voters can expect a familiar experience at the polls.