Today the House State Administration Committee takes on a bill which would prevent many Montanans from casting the ballots they are legally eligible to vote.

House Bill 108, introduced by Rep. Ted Washburn (Bozeman), seeks to limit the forms of identification voters can use when casting their ballots to a Montana-issued driver's license, a Montana-issued photo ID card or a tribal photo ID.

The ACLU of Montana, the national ACLU and ACLU affiliates across the country have opposed these sorts of voter ID bills in the past, and we oppose this one. It simply goes against a fundamental freedom of our one-person, one-vote democracy and places an unfair burden on senior citizens, people with disabilities, minorities and students.

Especially in a state like Montana, with many rural citizens, it can be difficult for many to even get to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain a driver's license or ID card. For some it may be the time or expense of getting there. Others may simply not have the transportation. Imposing this requirement is, in essence, imposing a poll tax, which is unconstitutional.

Rep. Washburn attempts to remove this burden by requiring the state to issue photo ID cards for free to those who will be of voting age by the election (if they do not have a driver's license), but these people must still get to a DMV office at their own expense. His solution is simply not good enough.

It also simply goes against common sense that certain forms of identification are not included as acceptable. What about state university-issued student IDs? U.S. passports? Neither would be acceptable if HB 108 became law.

As it stands, voters must already show a photo ID to vote at the polls. Why limit the kinds of IDs that are acceptable?

As Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch has repeatedly explained, there is absolutely no evidence of voter fraud under our current system. So why is Rep. Washburn attempting to fix a problem that doesn't exist?

Our full schedule for the day:

House State Administration Committee 8 a.m. Room 455

  • HB 108 Revise registration and proof of identity requirements for voting
  • HB 120 Generally revise election laws
  • HB 126 Generally revise ballot issues and petition statutes

House Judiciary Committee 8 a.m. Room 137

  • HB 71 Clarifying restorative justice laws and establishing grant programs
  • HB 72 Allow restorative justice as condition of suspended or deferred sentence
  • HB 137 Authorizing peace officer status for corrections criminal investigators

Office of Public Defender Subcommittee 8 a.m. Room 317A

Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Judicial Branch, Law Enforcement and Justice

Hearings and floor sessions can be accessed online.