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Gianforte signs bills eliminating Election Day registration, tightening voter ID

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Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 11:30:14-04

HELENA — Republican governor Greg Gianforte on Monday signed two bills that eliminate voter-registration on Election Day in Montana and tighten ID requirements for voting and voter-registration.

Gianforte, accompanied by bill sponsors and Republican Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen, who supported the measures, signed them into law at the Capitol.

“These new laws will help ensure the continued integrity of Montana’s elections for years to come,” he said in a statement.

Jacobsen said, “Montana sets the standards for elections across the country. However, there is always room for improvement, and voter ID and voter-registration deadlines are best practices in protecting the integrity of elections.”

Opponents of the two bills said they’re nothing more than voter-suppression, making it harder for Montanans to vote or register to vote. They’ve noted that supporters of the laws produced no evidence of any voter-fraud or problems with Montana’s prior system.

House Bill 176, sponsored by Rep. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, eliminates Election Day voter-registration in Montana after 15 years.

The new law ends voter registration at noon on the Monday before an election.

MTN News reported last month that anywhere from 1 percent to 2.3 percent of Montana votes cast in recent presidential general elections have been cast by people who register on Election Day.

Greef said the change would shorten lines at polling places and make things easier for county election officials.

Senate Bill 169, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, more tightly defines the type of ID required to vote in Montana or register to vote.

Cuffe said voter ID “is a key component in protecting the integrity of Montana elections.”