Montana Politics

Voting? We Can’t Have Too Much of That…

House Republicans are introducing two bills today to help restrict access to voting by eliminating Montana’s highly successful same-day registration.

Tom McGillvray (R-Billings) wants to restrict registration to four days before an election and require “proof of citizenship,” in the form of a birth certificate, passport, or tribal ID card. Rick Jore (Crazy-Ronan), wants to limit registration to 14 days before an election.

Both proposals are not only unnecessary, but unfortunate. McGillvray’s rationale for the bill is nothing more than conjecture and speculation:

McGillvray said the long lines in some counties this past Election Day opened the door for potential voting problems, including campaigning at the polls. McGillvray said he heard of campaigns offering water and sandwiches – and campaign materials – to people waiting in line.

These allegations would have been violations of existing law. Had McGillvray or Jore any proof that abuses occurred during the last election, the bill might be worth considering.

Republicans have traditionally opposed efforts to make registration easier, whether it was Motor Voter or same day registration? Why? The more people who vote, the worse it is for them.

It still wouldn’t be a good idea, though. Terry Kendrick, of Montana Women Vote said that 3,500 Montanans registered and voted on Election Day last November. Isn’t that a positive development? Why should the legislature act in a way that will make it less convenient for voters to get to the polls and express their opinions?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.


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  • The idea that we need voter registration reform “in an effort to deal with long lines” – as the Missoulian put it (perhaps alluding, poorly, to McGillvray and Jore’s justification for the introduction of their bills) – is ludicrous.

    We’ve had one election with the new law. No one would have expected it to go off without issues – but did we have problems? Evidence of fraud?

    Do you know how this did in committee today?

  • Well, they’re right. Same day registration has increased voter fraud in every state that has tried it. Examples: the poll at Marquette in 2000 that showed that about 20% of their students voted twice, the Gore campaign worker caught by ABC buying votes from the homeless for cigarettes, etc.

  • Come on…did you get that right off the Republican talking points blog?

    The Marquette story has been proven false, despite investigation (

    And you are not still pushing that Brian Ross story from the 2000 election? First, it was some whack volunteer, not the damn campaign. Second, if it were true, I suppose bribing someone with smokes is more honest than bribing with campaign donations.

    Quote as many fear tactics as you want: more voters voting = good.

  • The Marquette story hasn’t been proven false by any means. The DA brushed it off because he didn’t find anyone who voted in their hometown and in Milwaukee. That’s some in depth investigation right there. The whole reason people were getting away with it was because students were voting in Milwaukee and then simply using their fake ID at another polling station in the same city. Pretty damn easy to do, especially under Wisconsin’s law. Note that the reason the poll was taken in the first place was because of the student who bragged to the media that he voted FOUR TIMES–all in Milwaukee.

    Furthermore, don’t you find it a little disturbing that people pushing same day voter registration in Montana (read: Carol Juneau) are the same people who fought tooth and nail against showing ID at the polling place? I can’t even write a damn check anymore without showing my driver’s license, but it’s supposedly an infringement on my rights if I have to show a copy of my power bill. Hell, why don’t we just decriminalize voter fraud?

  • From the original post…
    “McGillvray’s rationale for the bill is nothing more than conjecture and speculation:”..

    There is this that no one’s mentioned…

    The secretary of state’s office wants early voting and registration cut off the Friday before a Tuesday election to make sure election officials can maintain proper lists at the precincts of who has already voted. Jore’s bill as written would cut off early voting and registration 14 days before the election.

    As mentioned in the article:
    Chief of staff for Republican Secretary of State Brad Johnson, Mark Simonich, stated that Election Day 2006 was “somewhat chaotic” because county election officials were required to simultaneously register voters and run elections.

    From the original post…
    “It still wouldn’t be a good idea, though. Terry Kendrick, of Montana Women Vote said that 3,500 Montanans registered and voted on Election Day last November. Isn’t that a positive development? Why should the legislature act in a way that will make it less convenient for voters to get to the polls and express their opinions?

    If 3,500 legal votes were cast on election day in Montana, it could be a positive development. What if one or some where illegal because not enough time was given to check for fraud? Why sacrifice fair, honest, and thorough voting policies and practices just for the people who vote late? {HB281 repeals SECTION 13-2-304, MCA titled “Late Registration …..”} Why can’t they vote on time? (this should may also be investigated as I’m sure someone would give these people help in $ome way)

    The reason that the legislature should act in this way is to prevent possible fraud. If… and when technology catches up and voter registration and voting stats can be better monitored, maybe fraud in vote counts can be controlled. To me it’s only logical that time to properly check credentials and other factors is pertinent before the rush to count the votes ensues. 3,500 votes in MT is heaps.
    Something else is missing in all this… reporting. We should have information from the Sec of State on how many people registered and voted on election day. We should also have info on any and all fraud that was found. If you didn’t think it happened… your dreaming… just because it wasn’t reported didn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Voter fraud is not party specific. I agree with the premise that more voters = good, but why so quick to discount fair voting practices?

    p.s. Clark Bar, good point.

  • Brett: I think the absence of proof, would, indeed. make the Marquette story less valid. You went to college: because some jackass is bragging about this or that does mean jack.

    I think the similarity between James and Brett’s argument here is that can’t show fraud happened in Montana because of this law. I am certain that Brad Johnson (who is spewing the party talking points, despite his promoting the rules before the election) is dedicating a lot of resources to dig up proof of the fraud (it would certainly take the heat off his office for the horrible job they did in the ’06 election). The reality is? No proof exists.

    And James…your argument is purely contrived. Claiming that the extra 3,500 extra voters is a bad development because “well, wonder of one was a fraud!” is silly.

    Find the proof of fraud here. That makes it a more compelling argument.

  • Same day voter registration ’causes’ fraud only in that it requires the state to expend more resources. That’s why Montana had huge poll lines, and why we didn’t know who won the senate until 5 am. Fraud is easier when voting is easier, obviously, but the answer is not to make voting harder, but to step up enforcement so that voting fraud is harder.

  • Here’s how I’ll put it to you. First, I resent the implicatication that the opposition to same day voter registration has anything to do with not wanting people to vote. There is absolutely no denying that the legal ability to register on the day of the election makes fraud easier. The state would have to expend more resources, but regardless, the incidence of fraud is going to increase, plain and simple.

    So you have two countervailing interests at stake: ease in voting vs. security of the system. Are you really going to tell me that it’s too much of a burden for a person to register to vote by the Friday before the election? That gives the counties a bare minimum three days to get their ducks in a row. What harm does it do to a voter?

  • The “countervailing interests” rhetoric is interesting, only if there is a dramatic, significant and compelling cause of fraud. Just because it is easier, doesn’t make it so. Proof? Still lacking…

  • Why should we have same day registration? Here in the state of Montana there are other benefits that only come after a period of residence. Those who attend the universities here are certainly eligible to absentee ballots in their home counties or states. Others who don’t care enough to actually take care of it ahead of time don’t deserve same day registration.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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