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House Bill 573 — Absentee ballots

House Bill 573 — Absentee ballots

Parrish Miller
February 20, 2024

Bill Description: House Bill 573 would limit the use of absentee ballots to cases where a voter has an illness or disability or anticipates being absent from the voting jurisdiction. 

Rating: +1

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

House Bill 573 would amend Section 34-1002, Idaho Code, to say that a "registered elector may request an absentee ballot if the elector is unable to vote in person on the day of the election and on all early voting days because the elector anticipates being out of the jurisdiction on such days; or has an illness or another disability that would prevent the elector from voting in person on such days."

It would require that absentee ballot applications include "the reason justifying the request for an absentee ballot."

The bill would say that an absentee ballot application may only be sent when requested by an elector, and only by "the county clerk or other officer charged by law with the duty of issuing official ballots for the election."

The bill would require that an absentee ballot application be completed by the elector "unless the elector, due to illness or another disability, needs assistance in completing the application. Such assistance may be provided only by a person who has a familial or caregiving relationship with the elector."

The final change made by the bill would clarify that "an application for an absentee ballot that fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be considered invalid, and no absentee ballot shall be issued in response to an invalid application."

Prior to the recent hyper-politicalization of the issue, both sides of the political aisle have long agreed that voting by mail-in ballot increases the likelihood of fraud, as Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton explained in a 2020 op-ed.

While the limitations imposed by House Bill 573 might seem inconvenient to some, the widespread availability of early voting and the hardship exemptions contained in the bill are sufficient to prevent any disenfranchisement while still strengthening the state's election integrity.


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