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Posts tagged: vote by mail

Lawmakers mull limiting absentee voting

As the Idaho Vote By Mail initiative drive ends without qualifying for the ballot, Idaho House GOP leaders are mulling further limiting, rather than expanding, absentee voting in the state. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, said, “It’s not just me - there are several legislators talking about trying to do something along that line.” Moyle, author of the new law that requires Idaho voters to show photo I.D. at the polls, said he’s concerned that federal laws may also require I.D. for absentee voting. “We may be breaking a law now,” he said.

“It’s been brought up by some other legislators, we talked about it a little bit, but nothing’s been decided yet,” Moyle said. “I’ve got to figure out what’s legal and what’s not.” You can read my full story here at

League backs permanent-absentee ballot measure

The Idaho League of Women Voters has endorsed an initiative petition to let Idahoans request permanent absentee ballot status, rather than have to request an absentee ballot every time there’s an election, a change that’s been supported in the past by the state’s county clerks but rejected by state lawmakers. “The League has a long history of supporting voter registration and ballot access,” said Kathryn Bonzo, co-president of the Idaho League of Women Voters.  “Permanent absentee balloting is a positive step forward for voters in Idaho.” All 44 of the state’s county clerks backed legislation to make the change in 2007, but lawmakers didn’t pass the bill. “The Idaho League supported the vote by mail bill sponsored by the county clerks,” Co-President Susan Steele said.  “We are endorsing the permanent absentee balloting initiative because it will make it easier for voters who need or want to vote by absentee ballot.”

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government. The “Idaho Permanent Absentee Ballot Initiative” has qualified to collect signatures in an effort to get on the ballot, but if successful, voters wouldn’t see it until the 2012 election. Click below to read my story from August about the unusually long time frame for the initiative. At least four states, including Washington, allow voters to file no-excuses, permanent absentee ballot requests, and voting by mail by sending in an absentee ballot has been gaining popularity both nationwide and in Idaho.

A step toward vote by mail…

Here’s a link to my full story on the vote-by-mail initiative that’s in the works, not for the 2010 election, but for the 2012 one. It’s the first Idaho ballot initiative to launch a signature drive with such a long time frame. If enacted, it would be a relatively modest step, simply allowing voters to request permanent absentee ballot status, rather than having to make a new request every election like they do now. At least four states, including Washington, allow voters to file no-excuses, permanent absentee ballot requests, and absentee voting has been gaining popularity both nationwide and in Idaho. In the 2008 election, 29.5 percent of Idaho’s votes were cast by absentee ballot, and the numbers were higher in Kootenai County - 35.4 percent - and Ada County, the state’s largest population center, at 43.5 percent.

Though the permanent-absentee idea was backed by all of Idaho’s county clerks and the secretary of state’s office, the Idaho Legislature has refused to consider it. The state’s highest percentage of absentee voting came in rural Teton County, which hit 50.8 percent in 2008.

Idaho vote-by-mail backers launch multi-year initiative campaign

Backers of a voter initiative to let Idahoans put in permanent absentee ballot requests, rather than having to file a new request every election, are trying something unorthodox: Instead of shooting for the 2010 election, they want their measure on the ballot in 2012, three years away. Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said it’s the first time he’s seen such a long timeline for an initiative, but the plan’s legal. “This is kind of a different take on it,” he said. “But they’re also looking at two years of county fairs, things like that.”

Larry Grant, a former Democratic congressional candidate and the head of Idaho Vote by Mail, said, “It will be easier to gather signatures when people are more involved in an election year. We just felt that we wanted all of 2010 to get those signatures.” Another possibility: After hearing about the signature-gathering campaign all through the election year, lawmakers could be prompted to drop their opposition and pass the measure on their own. More on this over the weekend, when my full story will come out in The Spokesman-Review.

Initiative would let Idaho voters sign up for permanent absentee ballots

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.

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About this blog

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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