House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, believes the right to vote is "sacred" and should be protected by the government of Idaho. Moyle's measure to protect that right, House Bill 496, passed the full House on a 64-6 vote Monday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Moyle's plan would require citizens to show some form of ID prior to voting in elections in the state. The bill outlines which forms of ID are acceptable for poll workers, a list which includes driver's licenses, tribal identification, passports, and student ID cards if the high school, college, or university is located in Idaho. The bill also allows those who don't have state-issued ID, typically the elderly, to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity. Anyone presenting false ID documents to gain voting rights would be charged with a felony, a punishment equal with similar offenses in state code, says Moyle.
The bill fails to address voter verification in the absentee voting process. Moyle, in the committee hearing on the bill, said that his bill is only the first step in the process and that he will continue to work with state officials to find a solution on absentee ballots.
Some lawmakers questioned the need for the legislation, saying that it constructs additional barriers in the voting process. Rep. Donna Boe, D-Pocatello, said Moyle's plan is unnecessary and would likely result in lower voter turnout, which she believes is too low already.
"If it ain't broke, we ought not try to fix it," said Boe.
Rep. Bob Schaefer, R-Nampa, said he believes voter fraud is rampant, even in Idaho. Prior to speaking in support of the legislation, Schaeffer said he entered the phrase "voter fraud" into an Internet search engine and received more than 900,000 results, which he cited as proof that voter fraud is occurring.