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Bill to require voter registration before election day introduced

Posted at 5:24 AM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-09 10:04:25-05

BOISE, Idaho — There's been movement on several bills at the statehouse this week related to elections, including HB 549.

Republican Representative Dorothy Moon of Stanley, who is also running for Secretary of State, said this bill addresses election integrity concerns.

"What this bill will do is address a multitude of issues that have been brought up after the 2020 election," she said.

HB 549 would do away with same-day voter registration and party affiliation on election day, and require voters to be registered 30 days before the election, or register in person at their County Clerk's office up to four days before the election.

This also means if passed, voters would have to register as a Republican ahead of the primary election in order to vote in the Republican Primary.

Moon failed to bring up the change to the voter registration timeline while introducing the bill in committee.

"It was just an oversight, there's nothing deliberate in that," she said when asked why this aspect of the bill was not mentioned.

It would also no longer allow an Idaho college or university student ID as a valid photo ID.

Because of these changes, the Idaho Democratic Party says HB 549 would make it harder for many groups to vote.

"It's unfortunate, right? Idaho has been a leader in providing access to the ballot and house bill 549 specifically seeks to end things such as same-day voter registration, make it harder for young people to vote, for our elderly and rural folks to vote," Jared Deloof, the Executive Director of the Idaho Democratic Party said. "As we have more people move into the state, for young people, for renters, a 30-day deadline on voter registration actually amounts to not being able to vote for people."

Idaho has allowed same-day voter registration since the 90s.

Another piece to the bill involves provisional ballots, a ballot that requires the voter to come back to their County Clerk with a valid ID in order for it to be counted. Voters would have to vote on a provisional ballot if they can not show a valid photo ID at the polls, rather than signing a personal affidavit as is currently required.

Moon said these things will help to address concerns of voter fraud, "These are the kind of issues, we need to do, is remove the doubt in the citizens' minds in this state."

There has been no evidence of voter fraud in Idaho. As we've reported, the Idaho Secretary of State's office performed recounts after the November 2020 election and said they found a 0.1% margin of error.

"House bill 549 is essentially an entire re-write of longstanding Idaho election law," Deloof said. "And all apparently for no reason."

We'll continue to follow this bill and other election-related legislation as the session continues.