WASHINGTON, D.C.—Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed two voter suppression bills into law on Monday. HB 176 and SB 169, which passed the Republican-majority state legislature at the end of March, eliminate same-day voter registration on Election Day and impose new voter ID requirements for both voter registration and casting a ballot respectively.
HB 176 passed along mostly party lines, and reverses the state’s policy of same-day registration on Election Day that has been in place since 2006. Between 1% and 2.3% of votes cast in Montana general elections were cast by same-day registrants, and a previous proposal to end the policy was rejected by voters in a 2014 referendum. Democrats especially warned of the disproportionate effect this policy will have on Native voters, who already face a host of barriers such as “restricted ballot collection efforts in Indian communities, reduced mail-in voting and early voting locations,” according to Sen. Susan Webber (D-Browning). “In every session, Native American voters have seen their right to vote infringed upon by this body,” she said.
SB 169 adds a double ID requirement for any voter without a state, military or tribal photo ID or passport. If bringing a different form of identification, such as a student ID, the voter must provide a secondary ID document as well. Student IDs are accepted in the majority of states with strict voter ID laws. This law, however, adds concealed carry permits to the list of permitted single-source IDs. The line of legislation targeting student IDs had been previously removed from the bill in early March, but was added back in right before passage through the Republican-controlled House.