BOISE, Idaho — The list of election-related bills in the Idaho Legislature is growing and several of these bills have moved forward this week. This is part of a national trend of state legislatures re-considering everything from election security to accessibility.
"In the last couple years, but especially following the 2020 election, elections themselves have been a really big topic at the state level and at the federal level," Jaclyn Kettler, a political scientist at Boise State University said.
The Senate State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to send two bills introduced by the Secretary of State's office to the Senate floor with a do pass recommendation.
Senate Bill 1273 would expand the method of payment for candidate filing fees to include debit and credit cards.
Senate Bill 1274 would provide for regular post-election audits by the secretary of state's office.
"We've seen data where our office has actually gone out and hand-counted as well as recounts that have happened across the state that have proven the validity and the accuracy of that equipment," Chad Houck, Chief Deputy Secretary of State said.
Even nationally, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud from the 2020 election.
"There is some fraud that happens, but in general it appears to be a very low--a very low rate and in general it's such a low rate that it's not affecting election outcomes," Kettler said.
House Bill 511 could see debate and a vote on the house floor as early as Thursday.
The bill would require candidate names to be rotated on ballots for any race with more than 100,000 registered voters. Currently, only federal, state, county and city office races require names to be rotated.
"In talks with the clerks and the Secretary of State's office we think this will apply to races like ACHD, CWI, North Idaho College, West Ada School Board and Boise School Board races," Democratic Rep. Colin Nash of Boise, the sponsor of the bill, said.
House Bill 547 was introduced this week. The sponsor of the bill, House Majority Leader Mike Moyle of Star said it addresses ballot harvesting.
"One concern that has come up is with absentee ballots or voting by mail is whether people are collecting ballots and then going and dropping--you know kind of dropping them all off at a drop-off box or something like that," Kettler said.
The bill would limit handling of both voted or unvoted ballots to election officials, postal workers, family members and those who share a household. Even those who are authorized to handle ballots can not deliver more than six at a time.
If someone is paid to deliver ballots by someone other than the voter or delivers more than ten ballots, they could be charged with a felony.
A similar bill was introduced last year and passed the house but did not get a hearing in the senate.
The statement of purpose for the bill says Idaho does not currently experience significant problems with ballot harvesting.
For more information on the bill and an update on where it is in the legislative process, click here.
House bill 567 was also introduced this week. It would shorten the filing period for candidates from two weeks to one week.
If passed, this would be in effect for the primary election in May.
House Bill 549 was also introduced this week. It would make changes to the voter registration deadline and ID requirements. You can find more information about the bill by clicking here.
Kettler said many of these election-related bills are part of a broader debate.
"It kind of goes back to some of these--a broader debate about what are we prioritizing when we make our election laws and is security the utmost important thing to us or is it making sure voting is accessible or how do we go about finding the balance where we can achieve both?" She said.
We'll continue to follow these bills as the session continues.