Democratic Lawmakers Reveal Five Part Initiative To Revamp Idaho’s Voting System

Jan 29, 2013

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More polling spots for early voters. Online registration.   These are some of the proposals Idaho democrats in the legislature unveiled today.

It’s called the Voting Opportunity and Trustworthy Elections, or VOTE, initiative.  Sen. Elliot Werk (D-Boise) says it’s time to update the way Idaho holds elections.  “The horse and buggy elections of our founders day simply do not work in today’s society.” 

Here’s how this five-part plan breaks down:

  1. Develop online registration.  Werk says the process could be made secure using Idaho driver’s licenses.   
  2. Hand out registration materials to people when they get or renew a driver’s license. 
  3. Force political parties that hold a closed primary to pay the cost of the election.  That’s a response to the Idaho Republican Party closing its primary last year.  “The Private Election Taxpayer Compensation Act takes the burden of paying for a closed primary off of our citizens,” says Werk, “and rightfully places the burden onto the political party that has voluntarily closed its primary election.” 
  4. Open more polling locations for early voters.  The bigger the county, the more polling spots for early voters.  Right now, Ada County only has one polling location for early voters. 
  5. On voting day, each county would set up one full-service polling place.  It would allow voting and registration for all voters in that county. A House Committee Tuesday already shot that idea down.  

Democrats acknowledge there would be challenges and expenses with their plan, which counties would have to bear.  The Ada County Clerk’s Office reports  November's general election cost more than $700,000.  Any changes to voting laws would likely drive that number higher. 

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