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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Denney proposes online voter registration legislation

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney proposed legislation this morning to allow online voter registration in Idaho. Nothing would change about how people vote; just how they register. “The first state that implemented it was Arizona in 2002,” he told the Senate State Affairs Committee. “I looked this morning; currently 30 states plus the District of Columbia are doing some form of online voter registration.”

The proposal would include verification through the Idaho Transportation Department’s driver’s license records. “I think it’s a very secure way to do things,” Denney said. “It’s cheaper. Most states have reported savings from 80 cents to a dollar per registration from going online. About half of these registrations in these 30 states are received online.”

It’s also quicker, Denney said. Currently, Idaho cuts off voter registration by law 24 days before the election, to allow time for verification; after that point, the only choice for voters who haven’t yet registered is same-day registration at the polls. Denney said if the new system works, that cutoff could potentially be moved closer to the election, and fewer voters might choose same-day registration at the polls, which slows down voting.

Asked about privacy, Denney told the senators, “I think going to be enhanced by going online. There’s nothing going to be changed with the security of that database that we currently have. It will still be protected just as it is now.”

Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie, R-Nampa, said he’s been involved in voter registration efforts, and “people are putting a lot of trust basically in a stranger, in giving that information to you, and you walk it over to the clerk’s office at some point. ... There’s a lot of human error on that. I’ve gone to an NCSL conf on this. The security is much higher, and it’s much quicker. I think it’s a better process. It doesn’t change anything about the process of how you vote.”

The committee then voted to introduce Denney’s bill, clearing the way for a full hearing. Denney is sponsoring the bill with two prominent lawmakers: McKenzie and House State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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