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Regional News

Idaho lawmakers tackle several election-related bills

Ballot box 2 in Spokane County
Doug Nadvornick/Spokane Public Radio
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One bill would abolish drop boxes for absentee ballots.

Many of the measures are responses to the 2020 election.

Idaho lawmakers are moving ahead on several election-related bills, from voter registration to reviewing results that may not be correct.

In that realm, if there are election irregularities in Idaho, Ada County clerk Phil McGrane says administrators have few options for investigating them.

“What this legislation does is it grants authority to the Secretary of State and the county clerks that if there is an error that they believe may have the potential to impact the outcome of an election, they can petition the district court for judicial review," he said.

That bill received a unanimous vote in the state House and now goes to the full Senate.

On the voter registration end, a House committee this week approved a bill that specifies the types of ID people must provide when they register to vote at the polls in person on Election Day.

For those who don’t have what the state requires, “the department shall issue a four-year identification card free of charge to any person who does not possess a valid Idaho drivers’ license or state identification card," said Rep. Dorothy Moon [R-Stanley]. Moon told a House committee on Wednesday that she expects fewer than 10,000 people would apply for one of the new cards. She estimates the cost to the state to be about $200,000.

Moon's bill also requires applicants expecting to register to vote on Election Day must bring a document that proves their U.S. citizenship before they can cast their ballots.

Several people testified against the bill. Kootenai County Elections Manager Asa Gray said he's not against the general thrust of the bill, but says some of its provisions will be difficult for people in his office to administer. He says the bill also does not allow several viable forms of identification that may be easier for some low-income and transient voters to find and present.

The bill was approved by the House State Affairs Committee and sent to the full House, as was legislation that would ban the use of ballot drop boxes to collect absentee ballots.

Rep. Priscilla Giddings [R-Idaho County] says the boxes located outside of courthouses and other ballot locations are not secure and are vulnerable to tactics such as ballot harvesting. Those same types of boxes are common in Washington, an all-mail and absentee ballot state.