Backers of mail-in voting in Idaho have filed an initiative petition seeking to let Idaho voters put in a permanent request for an absentee ballot, rather than having to request one each election. Former Democratic congressional candidate Larry Grant, a board member of Idaho Vote by Mail Inc., said, “There are plenty of folks who need or prefer to vote by mail, but we are not asking that Idaho go to full voting by mail. The initiative simply provides that those folks who want or need to vote by absentee ballot don’t have to ask for one every time. It’s a good middle ground. Those who want it can do it. Those who don’t want to, don’t have to.”
Though Idaho's county clerks have been supportive of mail-voting options, the Legislature has been unsupportive. If the proposed voter initiative gets the required signatures, it would go on the ballot in 2012 - not the next general election, but the one after. Click below to read the Idaho Vote by Mail Inc. news release about the proposed initiative.
June 18, 2009
For immediate release
Voter Initiative Filed for Permanent Absentee Balloting in Idaho
BOISE—An initiative petition to allow permanent absentee voting by mail in Idaho was filed this week with the Idaho Secretary of State by Idaho Vote by Mail, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit Idaho corporation.
“Currently in Idaho if you want to vote by absentee ballot you have to request a ballot each election,” said Larry Grant, a member of the board of directors of Idaho Vote by Mail, Inc. ”The purpose of the initiative is to allow folks the option of automatically getting an absentee ballot without having to ask for it every time.”
The petition was filed with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office on Monday, June 15, 2009. Following provisions of the Idaho initiative statute, the Secretary of State will refer it to the Idaho Attorney General, who has 20 working days to review the petition and provide comments. After considering those comments, Idaho Vote by Mail, Inc. has 15 working days to make any necessary revisions and decide to proceed. The Attorney General then has another 10 working days to provide ballot titles, after which the Secretary of State certifies the petition. At that point, Idaho Vote by Mail, Inc., can begin collecting signatures to get the proposition on the ballot for the general election in 2012.
Explaining the request for the 2012 ballot, Grant said, “We have to collect about 52,000 signatures. That’s going to require a substantial effort. The law says we have to collect them within 18 months or April 30th of the year of the election, whichever is earlier. We don’t think we can get that done by April 30, 2010, so we are opting to take advantage of the full 18-month period and put it on the ballot for 2012.”
In 2007, all 44 of Idaho’s county clerks sponsored and supported a bill in the Idaho Legislature to provide for voting by mail in all elections, a system that is being successfully used in Oregon. Legislative leaders expressed concern, however, and the bill was tabled and the issue has not been addressed by the Legislature since.
“There are plenty of folks who need or prefer to vote by mail,” Grant said. “but we are not asking that Idaho go to full voting by mail. The initiative simply provides that those folks who want or need to vote by absentee ballot don’t have to ask for one every time. It’s a good middle ground. Those who want it can do it. Those who don’t want to, don’t have to.”