House Bill 1 – In-person voting

Parrish Miller 2020 Special Session Leave a Comment

Bill description: House Bill 1 amends existing law to provide that every elector must be provided the opportunity to vote in person, notwithstanding a state of emergency.

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Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

Voting in person adds a level of transparency to the electoral process that cannot be recreated when voting by mail. While House Bill 1 does not eliminate mail-in voting, it does guarantee (with some limited exceptions for rural precincts) the right to cast one’s vote in person regardless of the existence of an emergency or disaster declaration.  

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Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

House Bill 1 will move the state toward ensuring and protecting the right of every Idaho elector to cast their vote in person instead of reserving that right only to residents of some counties, districts, or precincts (with some limited exceptions for rural precincts). It is critical that this right be protected equally for all Idahoans. 

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Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

The right to vote is guaranteed by both the U.S. and Idaho Constitutions. While neither of these documents specifically require that this right be exercised in person, this is the traditional form of voting that has existed throughout the history of the republic. Allowing precincts to eliminate in-person voting undermines this foundational and constitutionally guaranteed right and limits direct citizen participation in the functioning of government. 

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