As Montana voters head to the polls to elect a new senator and a new congressman this November, they will also decide whether it should be more difficult to cast a ballot in Big Sky Country.
On Election Day, Montana will host one of the country’s key voting rights battles as voters decide whether to preserve or eliminate the state’s Election Day Registration (EDR) law, which permits citizens to register (or update their registration if they’ve recently moved) when they show up at the polls.
Montana adopted EDR in 2005 when the state legislature passed Senate Bill 302 by overwhelmingly bipartisan margins (89-8 in the House and 42-8 in the Senate). Since then, 28,239 Montanans have personally benefitted from EDR, according to Secretary of State Linda McCulloch. [...]
The Billings Gazette, the state’s largest newspaper, took issue with the notion that repealing EDR was intended to protect the “integrity” of Montana elections, calling the claim “deceptive.” They urged citizens to reject the initiative. Damon Daniels, an advocacy assistant at Demos, a New York-based think tank, also warned that eliminating EDR would increase election costs in Montana, particularly because the state would need “to educate voters in order to remain in compliance with existing federal mandates.”