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Eye On Boise

Who’s a couch potato?

The House State Affairs Committee’s lengthy debate about vote-by-mail legislation this morning included some exchanges in which committee members got a bit huffy. Here’s S-R reporter Parker Howell’s description:

Some representatives accused fellow committee members of having little faith in common voters to be informed and honest, prompting outcries of offense from their colleagues. “We’re not talking about lazy couch potatoes here,” said Rep. Clete Edmunson, R-Council, adding that the bill would help families and those who have to travel long distances to vote. “You have to have faith in your local county officials.”

Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, spoke against the bill, saying it would facilitate voting by the uninformed. But Rep. Mark Snodgrass, R-Meridian, said he was offended. “I think there are people who have given their lives for the right of people to vote, and those people did not give their lives so that only informed people could vote, they gave their lives so that everybody could vote,” Snodgrass said. “When we start saying we only want informed people to vote, or we only want specific people to vote, I think that goes against every fiber in my body.”

Rep. Raúl R. Labrador, R-Eagle, said, “Just because I’m worried about voter fraud, doesn’t mean that I think that the people of Idaho are going to commit fraud. I actually find that part personally offensive that people are so offended by probing questions,” he said. “Apparently it’s not a good thing to ask probing questions when you’re in the legislature. That’s been my experience so far.”

Rep. John Rusche, D-Lewiston, called talking about lazy voters “somewhat distasteful,” while Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest River, said he took “a little bit of offense to the personal nature” of the debate. Labrador had the last word. “Just a point of clarification,” he said. “I have not heard a single member of this committee refer to voters as lazy.”

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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