Bill Description: House Bill 75 would set specific requirements for when a voter may choose to vote using an absentee ballot and prevent elections officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.
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 75 would amend Section 34-1001, Idaho Code, related to absentee ballots, by limiting the reasons for which a voter may request an absentee ballot. Under current law, any voter may request an absentee ballot without providing a reason.
House Bill 75 would provide four explanations a voter could use as a reason for requesting an absentee ballot:
"The elector's active service with the armed forces of the United States."
"The elector's illness, disability, or hospitalization."
"The elector is unable to appear at the polls on the day of the election in order to work or attend university."
"The elector is out of the county on the day of the election on a religious mission."
The bill also says "No person shall misrepresent the eligibility requirements for voting by absentee ballot set forth in subsection (1) of this section to any elector or prospective absentee ballot applicant. No elector shall misrepresent the elector's qualifying circumstances to any election official."
By reducing the use of absentee ballots, this bill will reduce the opportunities for misuse and fraud, thereby increasing election integrity.
House Bill 75 would amend Section 34-1002, Idaho Code, to say, "No government official or other entity shall send an absentee ballot application directly to any elector except upon the direct request of the elector. Applications may not be prefilled with the elector's required information but must be completed by the elector."
This provision will prevent the troubling practice, used in some states, of mass mailing absentee ballot applications to large numbers of voters. To make things worse, sometimes the applications are filled out before they are mailed. These mass mailings significantly increase the number of absentee ballots disseminated, increasing the risk of malfeasance.
Once again, reducing the use of absentee ballots will reduce opportunities for misuse and fraud, and improve election integrity in Idaho.
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