New York – Today, Demos, a national public policy and advocacy center that supports pro-voter election reform, applauded Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer for vetoing an anti-voter measure recently passed by the state legislature. The bill, HB 180, would have rescinded Montana’s so-called “late registration” period, a type of "Same Day Voter Registration" which allows citizens to register and vote at county clerks’ offices on Election Day and the preceding 30 days. Demos also encouraged the Governor to veto a potential second bill that would place severe restrictions on the types of identification that voters could show in order to register to vote and cast a ballot.
“Governor Schweitzer upheld a cornerstone of his state's democracy today by vetoing legislation that would have made it harder for Montanans to vote — the most fundamental right and responsibility of citizenship,” said Miles Rapoport, President of Demos and former Connecticut Secretary of the State.
“Montana introduced Same Day Registration, or 'late registration,' in 2006 so that more eligible citizens could vote. And that’s just what happened. Over 43,000 Montanans have used Same Day Registration to participate in elections over the past five years, helping to make it one of the states with the highest voter participation in the country. That’s a success that should be emulated by other states, not abandoned.
“Montana’s county clerks have worked to make Same Day Registration a great success. Governor Schweitzer’s veto of this bill honors those efforts. Montana can continue to take pride in its can-do approach to elections. It is among the nine states in the nation that allow citizens to register and vote on Election Day, or in the period leading up to it. They lead the country in voter turnout, and do so while maintaining the integrity of the election system and our democracy. That’s why we at Demos have long championed Same Day Registration as a proven means of increasing voter participation.”
HB 152, a second piece of legislation currently making its way through the legislature, would severely limit the forms of ID that individuals could use for voter registration and voting.
“We ask that Governor Schweitzer continue his defense of democracy by vetoing the very restrictive voter ID bill that’s being readied for his signature,” continued Rapoport. “HB 152 would limit the forms of ID that individuals could use for voter registration and voting to: a Montana driver’s license, a Montana identification card, and a tribal ID — documents that some Montanans do not have. Low-income citizens, students, elderly voters, and voters with disabilities are at greatest risk of being disfranchised.”
"Demos strongly supports Governor Schweitzer's opposition to these bills, and encourages him and other governors to stand firmly against attacks on voting rights."
For more information on Same Day Registration, Voter ID and other voting rights issues, visit www.demos.org. To schedule an interview, see contact information.