Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed two voting bills into law on Monday, April 19, in advance of the 2022 race.
One new bill will “prohibit registering to vote on Election Day—a practice more than 60,000 voters in the state have done between 2006 and 2018 alone—and ending a previous rule that allowed students to use their student ID to vote, now requiring a second form of identification,” according to Forbes.
Montana has a long history of secure, open elections, establishing a national pattern, according to Gianforte, who also said that “these new laws will help ensure Montana’s election integrity for many years to come.”
In 2021, Montana joined Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, and Texas as states with approved election reform legislation.
The reforms were demanded by Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen (R).
The Montana Democratic Party filed suit against Jacobsen right away in state court seeking to overturn the Republican’s new measures, arguing they pose an illegal undue burden on people’s right to vote, particularly young voters and those who commonly take advantage of same-day voter registration like the elderly, disabled and Indigenous communities.
On March 24, the bill was amended to include a second form of verification for those wishing to enroll using a student ID. A bank statement, a phone bill, a paycheck, a government check, or another government document with the person’s name and present address are viable alternatives.
Rep. Geraldine Custer of Forsyth, a Republican, opposed the reform, claiming that it discriminated against students and would result in a court battle, reports Flatheadbeacon.
According to House Speaker Wylie, Galt, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah all need extra verification from undergraduates before they can sign up to vote.
Montana’s governor has passed another legislation requiring election officials to review their voter identification databases every year for any changes.
Before Montana, Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill on March 8 to limit absentee voting, shorten the early voting time, and close polls earlier on Election Day.
The bill had passed both the House and the Senate and was widely supported by Republicans. The new provision seeks to create an electoral system that is fairer and free of speculation about fraud.
Accordingly, Iowa will now shorten the in-state early voting period from 29 to 20 days. It will also require that most vote-by-mail ballots be received before Election Day. Polling places must close at 8 p.m., one hour earlier than before under the law.
GOP-led state legislatures across the country are undertaking similar efforts to prevent future complications and instances of voter fraud after what happened in the last presidential election in November 2020.