WASHINGTON, D.C. — Republicans in the Montana Legislature have advanced House Bill 176, which would ban same-day voter registration, a 15-year policy used by thousands of Montanans every election. Every Republican in the Montana statehouse voted for the bill, ignoring voters’ approval of the policy via a 2014 referendum. The Montana House passed the measure last month, and on Wednesday the state Senate followed suit after its second reading.
Between 1% and 2.3% of Montana voters choose to register to vote on Election Day, totaling thousands of eligible voters. State Democrats have called the move a clear attempt at suppressing votes in the state, and Native American leaders emphasized the added difficulty for tribal voters who already have to travel far to reach polling locations. Under the new bill, Native American voters would have to complete two separate trips to register and vote.
After passing the state Senate, the bill returns to the state House for approval of a minor additional amendment before heading to the governor’s desk. Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte has publicly supported the bill and is expected to sign it into law.