Republican Idaho legislator introduces third bill attempting to change voter registration, ID laws
State Affairs Committee votes to put bill on fast-track and send it straight the House floor, skipping public hearing process
Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, listens to discussion on the House floor at the Idaho Capitol on April 6, 2021. (Otto Kitsinger for Idaho Capital Sun)
A Republican legislator who is running for Idaho Secretary of State in this spring’s primary elections is making her third attempt to make widespread changes to voter registration and identification laws in the name of election security.
Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, sponsored House Bill 761. On Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee voted to put it on a fast-track and send it straight to the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives, skipping the committee public hearing process.
Moon’s new 21-page bill would make several changes if it is passed into law. Some of the changes include:
- Student IDs will no longer be accepted to vote, as they are in current law.
- Voters will no longer have the option to sign a sworn affidavit at the polls to verify their identity.
- A concealed weapons permit would now be accepted for voting.
- To register on Election Day at the polls, voters would need to bring additional documents to prove their citizenship, address verification and identification, such as a U.S. passport or birth certificate, a utility bill (not including cell phones) that is no more than six months old or a lease agreement or mortgage and a current Idaho driver’s license or active duty United States military ID card.
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The bill would also create a $200,000 fund to pay for state identification cards that would be accepted for voting and available free of charge for people who do not have a driver’s license or one of the other accepted forms of identification.
“I think I’ve addressed every issue and concern (in previous bills),” Moon told the House State Affairs Committee on Thursday.
The Idaho Secretary of State’s Office said elections in Idaho are secure and that claims of widespread voter fraud made following the 2020 election are without merit.
Earlier version of the bills raised questions and drew opposition
The first two versions of the bill were similar but attracted opposition and raised many questions.
- Moon’s first attempt at changing voting, identification and registration laws this year came via House Bill 549, which would have made many of the same changes and repealed same-day voter registration at the polls on Election Day. During that first bill’s introductory hearing, Moon never mentioned it would have repealed same-day voter registration at the polls, even though it would have been a major change in law. Same-day registration has proven extremely popular in Idaho. In the 2020 general election, for example, more than 87,000 voters registered at the polls on Election Day, according to election results available on the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office website. House Bill 549 never advanced out of committee.
- Moon tried again with House Bill 692. That bill made it out of committee despite the fact everyone who testified during the March 2 public hearing on the bill opposed it. Elections workers and clerks said the bill had numerous flaws that would have made it more difficult for students, seniors and rural voters to vote. Moon attempted to run a so-called trailer bill (named because it follows behind the original bill) in an effort to salvage House Bill 692, but House Bill 692 ran into trouble on the House floor before the trailer bill got there and Moon pulled House Bill 692.
In legislative lingo, that makes House Bill 761 the “grandson” of House Bill 549, because it is the third generation.
The bill now has a clause that makes sure it won’t take effect before this year’s May 17 primary elections. Instead, it would take effect on July 21. That means the changes would apply to November’s general election if it is signed into law.
During Thursday’s introductory hearing, Moon said she cleared up all the issues with the previous versions of the bill.
“I think we’ve got it covered, I do,” Moon said.
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But Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, worried the bill would still make it very difficult for many students, young people and new Idaho residents to vote.
“I’m really concerned about the young person who is 19, 20, 21, 22 and proving their residency for same-day voting purposes,” Gannon said.
Rep. Rod Furniss, R-Rigby, also told Moon he still has questions about how voters could prove their residency if their home was owned through a trust and they didn’t have a lease or mortgage in their name.
“I don’t think that has really been hashed through as well as you would think,” Furniss said during the bill’s introductory hearing.
Gannon and Rep. Chris Mathias, D-Boise, voted against introducing and fast-tracking Moon’s new bill Thursday, while all of the Republicans on the committee voted in favor of it.
At this point, the bill is already behind schedule. The Idaho Legislature’s self-imposed transmittal deadline to move bills between the two legislative chambers was Monday. Legislative leaders have also said they are working to wrap up the session in about two weeks, by March 25.
Moon had the new bill sent straight to the House floor in an effort to speed it up with the potential end of the session closing in. If the Idaho House passes the bill in the coming days, it would still need to pass the Idaho Senate and be signed into law by Gov. Brad Little or allowed to become law without Little’s signature.
Moon is running in the Republican primary for secretary of state this year. On Thursday, Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane announced he will also run for secretary of state in the GOP primary. The candidate filing period closes at 5 p.m. Friday.
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