Republican candidate for Idaho secretary of state spreads unverified reports of voter fraud
Secretary of State’s Office: No widespread Canadian voter fraud is occurring in northern Idaho
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 candidate for Idaho secretary of state spread vague and unverified claims of voter fraud on the floor of the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday morning while pushing a bill to tighten voter registration and identification laws.
Moments before the Idaho House voted on House Bill 761, Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, said the bill is needed to give the public confidence in elections.
“There (are) a lot of reports of people coming from Canada that I’ve been hearing just after coming back from Coeur d’Alene last night, that have been coming over and voting,” Moon told legislators while speaking on the House floor. “So this just secures our elections.”
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Moments later, the House voted 47-21 to pass the bill.
Moon did not provide any specifics about the source of the reports, the number of people allegedly coming from Canada and voting, the Idaho counties where this allegedly took place or the timeframe when it happened. The Idaho Capital Sun emailed Moon requesting the source of her reports and more specific numbers and examples. She had not responded as of this article’s publication.
The Sun also asked Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck whether there are reports of people coming from Canada and voting in Idaho.
“In short, no,” Houck said during a telephone interview Monday.
Houck said he supports tightening voter registration laws but said that widespread voter fraud is not occurring through Canadians coming down to vote in Idaho and affecting the outcome of elections.
Furthermore, Houck said there are reasons why people in Canada would be legally allowed to vote in Idaho, including Idahoans who are members of the United States military or armed forces who may be serving in Canada. Additionally, Idaho voters who are U.S. citizens and are in Canada temporarily are able to vote absentee if they maintain their Idaho residence and plan to return to Idaho.
“I agree with the premise of tightening up our statutory regulations on registration requirements and the IDs required, but to say that is the reason we need to do it is a stretch,” Houck said.
“Just throwing things out that are anecdotal as the defense for that doesn’t help,” Houck added. “If we’re going to say that, we should be pointing to specific cases, specific numbers.”
In response to questions from the Sun and KTVB, Houck contacted county clerks in Kootenai and Bonner counties, two of the three northernmost counties in Idaho. Houck also left a message for the clerk in Boundary County. One clerk recalled an instance in 2009 where “a handful” of folks from the U.S. went to Canada (not the other way around) and then came back to vote. Houck said the courts found the voters were allowed to vote and that their absence from the state didn’t require removing their registration.
Houck said there was one instance of one voter from Canada attempting to vote in Ada County in 2020. That case was referred to the county, which would handle prosecution of any such cases. Houck said he was unsure if charges have been filed in connection with the incident.
Moon is one of three candidates running in the May 17 Republican primary for secretary of state, which is the state office in charge of elections in Idaho. The other two candidates are Sen. Mary Souza, R-Coeur d’Alene, and Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane. The winner of the May 17 GOP primary advances to the Nov. 8 general election to face Democratic candidate Shawn Keenan of Coeur d’Alene.
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How does Rep. Moon’s bill change Idaho voting laws?
The bill would make several changes if passed into law, including:
- Student identification cards, which are now accepted to vote, would no longer be accepted to vote.
- Voters would no longer have the opportunity to sign a legal affidavit to verify their identity to vote.
- An Idaho license to carry a concealed weapon would become a new form of identification accepted to vote.
- The state would create a $200,000 fund to pay for state identification cards accepted for voting to be issued free of charge for Idahoans who do not have a driver’s license.
- Individuals who register to vote at the polls on Election Day would now need to prove their citizenship, verify their address and verify their identity to vote by bringing in additional documents, 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 or a current Idaho driver’s license or military identification card.
“What we need is an election integrity bill that’s going to make people feel that we are all following the rules,” Moon told the Idaho House. “And right now we have a personal ID that is not (a) secure ID. We don’t have enough residency requirements and now we do, and citizenship is important.”
Debate on the bill Monday was limited, but House Minority Leader Illana Rubel, D-Boise, told the Idaho House the bill will likely be challenged and thrown out by the courts if it is passed into law.
“There are still going to be thousands of people in Idaho — legal, perfectly legal voters —who will be barred from registering under this statute,” Rubel said.
Rubel said her late mother would have been prevented from registering to vote because she did not have a utility bill or lease agreement in her name late in life.
Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, also debated against the bill’s passage, saying it would make it unusually difficult for students and young voters to vote.
“Unfortunately when you make it so difficult for them to vote, they will get discouraged and unenthusiastic about this wonderful, wonderful political process that we have,” Gannon said.
More than 87,000 voters registered to vote and then voted on Election Day 2020, according to election results available on the Idaho Secretary of State’s website.
During the introductory hearing for this bill and one of its predecessors, opponents expressed concern the changes would make it more difficult for students, young adults, newer Idaho residents and seniors who don’t work or have a home or lease in their name to vote.
During Monday’s debate, Moon downplayed concerns over making it harder to vote, saying her legislative colleagues and friends are already registered to vote.
“Every one of us are already registered to vote in this chamber,” Moon told the Idaho House on Monday. “Everybody we know in this state is already registered to vote.”
This is Moon’s third attempt to make widespread changes to voter registration and identification laws this year.
- Her first effort was House Bill 549, which would have repealed same-day voter registration in Idaho. During that bill’s introductory hearing, Moon never disclosed her bill would repeal same-day registration.
- The second effort was House Bill 692, which was similar to the current bill but included flawed provisions requiring voter registration forms be mailed only to a person’s residence, even if that person cannot accept mail delivery at their residence. Many rural Idahoans, for example, cannot get mail at their residences and use P.O. boxes. Moon eventually pulled House Bill 692 back from the House floor.
This new bill, House Bill 761, does not include the provision requiring registration forms be mailed to a person’s residence.
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