Idaho Voting Rights in the Crosshairs
Several bills related to our elections are starting to advance in the Statehouse. Let’s break them down:
H439 – This legislation would affect the 310,000 Idaho voters who are registered as unaffiliated. Should this bill pass, these voters — nearly one third of our electorate — would have to declare a party affiliation by the candidate filing deadline, which is March 11 this year, to vote in the primary election. Voters would have to decide which party to affiliate with before even knowing which candidates are running. This bill advanced to the House floor.
H547 – This bill would criminalize delivering a ballot for anyone not in your immediate household in the hopes of preventing “ballot harvesting”, despite noting twice in its Statement of Purpose that “Idaho does not currently experience significant problems with ballot harvesting.” This is a heavy-handed solution in search of a problem, and would restrict access to the ballot for those in rural communities, folks living in group care settings, or anyone who relies on a friend, caregiver or partner to drop off their ballot. This bill advanced to the House floor.
H548 – CVI is supportive of this fix. This legislation creates a database for agencies to cross reference which district candidates file to run in, making sure they live in the district where they’re running and not claiming tax exemptions on multiple homes as a primary residence. This bill advanced to the House floor.
H549 – This legislation creates multiple barriers to voting, and additionally would trigger more federal involvement and regulations in our elections. The bill was presented in committee last week and is awaiting some fixes before coming back to House State Affairs for a full hearing.
All bills originating in the House this session have an emergency clause attached, which means they would go into effect as soon as they were signed. This is particularly alarming in regards to the upcoming primary election and would no doubt impact voters before there was time to notify them of the changes.
What Else is in the Works:
Aside from voting, we’re working on several other pieces of legislation this session.
S1319 is a technical fix that would allow school districts to access funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act that passed Congress this past fall. These funds can be used to upgrade diesel school buses to electric school buses. The bill has bipartisan support in the Senate and will get a full hearing in the Senate Education Committee tomorrow.
We’re also tracking bills regarding clean energy building codes, the Idaho Department of Lands (H587), chronic wasting disease and others. More to come on these bills…and more!
At this point in the session, legislation is moving quickly and everyone is running fast! We’ll keep you up to speed as things advance and stall. You can also follow along with our bill tracker.