Yesterday I headed out to do a little get-out-the-vote pavement pounding, visiting a number of residences and urging people to go to the polls.
One of my stops was the God's Love homeless shelter in downtown Helena, where I told residents what they need to do to register and vote. People with no permanent home have a more difficult time voting than those with regular addresses, but it's still possible.
If they miss the regular voter registration deadline, they can still register to vote and cast a ballot at their county clerk's office. In Lewis and Clark County, that's at the City/County Building -- a short walk from God's Love.
Montana residents are lucky. It's easier to register to vote here than in many states and people can do so through election day.
That wouldn't have been the case if legislators had gotten their way. They passed a bill during the 2011 session that would have ended same-day voter registration. Thankfully, Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed it.
Voters in other states don't have it as good. Voter repression efforts, like Voter ID, overly stringent registration requirements and provisional ballot rules that invalidate votes are increasing in frequency and impact as some politicians seek an edge by denying their opponents' supporters the right to vote.
The ACLU is committed to making sure everyone is able to exercise his or her right to vote. Rich or poor, man or woman, racial majority or minority, you have the right to vote.
There's still room for improvement in Montana. We support a lawsuit filed last month by tribal members on the Northern Cheyenne, Crow and Forth Belknap reservations to have late voter registration sites set up on those reservations. Right now many of the tribal members on those reservations have to travel more than 100 miles to reach the county clerk's office. That's a voting barrier that violates the federal Voting Rights Act.