House Majority Leader Mike Moyle's, R-Star, plan to require citizens to show identification prior to voting at the polls on election day has cleared the House State Affairs Committee despite objections from one Democratic lawmaker.
Moyle's plan would require voters to show some form ID that contains a picture and a name of voter. The bill outlines which type of ID can be accepted by poll workers, a list which includes passports, student ID cards (if the high school, college, or university is located in Idaho), tribal identification, as well as an Idaho driver's license. If a citizen wishing to vote cannot provide one of those types of ID, he will be able to sign an affidavit affirming his identity.
The bill would also make it a felony if a citizen presents false identification at the time of voting, a provision which drew fire from Rep. Phylis King, D-Boise. King objected to the felony-level punishment, saying that she feels it is too harsh and doesn't fit the crime. King offered a motion to send the bill to the amending orders of the full House and change the penalty to a $500 fine, a move which Moyle sharply criticized.
"If you think your vote is only worth 500 bucks, then go ahead and go there," said Moyle. He added that he feels the right of vote is too "sacred" to be worth the penalty proposed by King.
King defended her motion, again expressing concern about the severity of the penalty.
"I just don’t think we need to send people to prison and I would rather see a fine," said King. "I think our jails are full of a lot of people."
King's move to change the penalty failed on a vote by committee members.
The bill does not address absentee voting, a concern raised by Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs. Moyle said the parties involved, other legislators, and representatives from the attorney general's office could not reach a conclusion about what the state should do concerning that matter, so it was left out of the legislation. Moyle added that he plans to continue working with the attorney general's office to develop effective and acceptable policy to establish an absentee voter identification plan.
The bill's fiscal note states that the voter ID plan will have no impact on the general fund, though counties could face some financial obligation to train poll workers and develop some new voting forms.
The voter ID plan was passed and now moves on to the full House for a vote.
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