The No.1 reason Rep. Washburn says MT should end same-day voter registration

Voter registration lines at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse, Election Day 2012

Voter registration lines at the Lewis and Clark County Courthouse, Election Day 2012

Long Election Day lines.

Bozeman Republican Representative Ted Washburn is proposing a bill to the Montana Legislature (HB30) which would eliminate Montana’s same-day voter registration system. The House State Administration Committee held a hearing on the bill Monday.

Washburn says the top reason he wants to this bill is to protect the integrity of the elections, a process he says is open to potential fraud.

Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman)

Rep. Ted Washburn (R-Bozeman)

And, for Washburn, this bill would help reduce that risk primarily through reducing long lines on Election Day. As we reported on Election Day 2012, many County Election offices around the state had people waiting in line for hours to vote.

“You’ve got people lining up till midnight trying to register to vote,” Washburn said about last November 6th at his election office in Gallatin County. Rep. Washburn believes the number of people registering on the final day complicates  to an already hectic process for election officials.

His bill proposes moving the last day for voter registration to the last Friday before the election.

As Lee Newspapers Reporter Charles S. Johnson reports, about 20 people spoke against Rep. Washburn’s bill, while only two spoke in favor of it. Groups such as the AARP, the ACLU as well as some Native American groups said the bill would ‘disenfranchise’ Montanans.

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch told the committee over 28 thousand Montanans have used same-day voter registration since it was implemented in the 2006 General Election. She says there have been no identified cases of voter fraud in Montana from same day registration and this is “a solution to a problem that does not exist.” .

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