Posted: Mar 21, 2013 7:52 PM by Dennis Bragg - MTN News
(MISSOULA)- A public interest research group is calling on Montanans to let the Legislature know it shouldn't approve a bill seeking to eliminate same-day voter registration.
House Bill 30 was introduced by Republican Representative Ted Washburn of Bozeman in response to those huge lines that developed at the polls last November with a sudden push of unregistered voters. Those people were in line by the 8 p.m. closing time, but it took several more hours to process the lines with people needing "same day" voter registration.
Backers of the measure believe the change is needed to improve efficiency on election day. But students with the Montana Public Interest Research Group say their surveys show as many as 82% of University of Montana students were only able to vote because of "same day" registration. They claim that pencils out to over 600 students that wouldn't have been able to cast ballots.
"The voter has a responsibility to register to vote before an election. But there's also a shared responsibility with the state. And the state should allow a means for all eligible voters to vote unimpeded," UM Freshman Betsy Story said during a press conference today.
Interim MontPIRG Executive Director Lili Snyder agreed, saying voters do have a responsibility to register. But she believes there also needs to be a mechanism to help voters who move frequently.
"Montanans who've needed same day voter registration in order to vote include military personnel returning from duty, students, veterans, people who recently moved and voters who thought they were registered."
MontPIRG is urging people to show their opposition to House Bill 30 before it makes it out committee, which may happen as soon as Friday.
Read the latest version of House Bill 30 here.