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Idaho House drop kicks drop boxes, shows no love for process servers

Courtesy of Idaho state legislature
Idaho legislators are working to move large numbers of bills before the scheduled March 25 final gavel.

Legislators move through a flurry of bills as the 2022 session enters final weeks.

The Idaho House has narrowly approved a bill that would eliminate drop boxes for absentee ballots.

Proponents, such as the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Priscilla Giddings [R-Idaho County], question the security of drop boxes. She says many have no cameras or means to monitor who approaches them.

She says state law is clear that voters should either cast their ballots in person or send them in via the mail.

“Taking your ballot to another location and dropping it off somewhere, where there’s not an individual, where there’s not security, does not count as mailed or delivered to the officer who issued the same. So I would argue that drop boxes are currently operating outside of the scope of the law," she said.

Opponents say they know of no reported security issues with ballot drop boxes in Idaho. Many, though not all, counties employ them. And, says Elmore County Republican Megan Blanksma, they’re a handy tool for rural voters.

“They gave us options so we could get those ballots in without using the mail," she said. "Additionally, I have some concerns that, for those of you who haven’t been to a rural post office, they aren’t manned the whole time, so when you drop it off, you are dropping into a drop off box.”

The bill to outlaw ballot drop boxes was approved by a 38-32 vote. It now moves to the state Senate.

The House also voted down a bill that would give process servers legal protection to deliver documents to people on their private property.

Supporters say process servers have a difficult, but important, job in taking important documents to people involved in legal proceedings. Some, say Lewiston Republican Lori McCann, have had to get creative to reach the people they have to serve. McCann is the program coordinator and professor in the Paralegal and Legal Assisting programs at Lewis Clark State College.

“In one instance, we had a process server that also was delivering, there was a pizza delivery. He said I’ll deliver your pizza to gain, just someone to open the door because, quite frankly, people don’t want to visit with a process server. We have to protect that system. It works. But we cannot allow them to be charged with trespass to go onto the property to do their job," she said.

Opponents, such as Rep. Heather Scott [R-Bonner County], argue there are no state laws that govern who can deliver legal papers, other than they must be 18 or older.

“Maybe we need to do more restrictions on what it takes to serve legal documents. Identification at minimum before we’re going to allow them access to people’s property," she said. "I don’t like this bill one bit.”

Opponents say rural homeowners are especially vulnerable to people who could pose as process servers and try to get access to someone’s home.

The bill was voted down by the House, 44-24.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.