We expect HB 176 "Close late voter registration on Friday before the election,” to be on the House floor soon. Click here to read this bill. Please contact the below legislators to tell them how you feel about the importance of late voting for people with disabilities across the state of Montana.
HB 176 Removes The Late Voter Registration Safety Net That Ensures That Montanans Do Not Lose the Ability To Vote Merely Because of Unanticipated Life Events.
The Montana Legislature passed late voter registration in 2005. Since that time, it has served as an important safety net for voters who, for various reasons, need to register within the 30 days prior to an election, including on election day. Thousands of voters have used this option to register and cast a ballot since it was enacted. HB 176 would roll back late registration to the Friday prior to election day, eliminating same-day registration on election day.
Unpredictable life events can have the effect of denying someone the right to vote if we don’t have late registration.
Montanans highly value their right to vote, but sometimes unexpected life events can interfere with their ability to do so. People with disabilities and their families are well aware that their treatment needs and circumstances are often not predictable, and do not respect the regular voter registration deadlines.
One such life event is a person’s hospitalization or transition to a congregate care setting such as assisted living or a nursing home. Many people with disabilities and their families are well aware of the disruption and difficulties that this can cause. In some cases, people must receive this care in a different county than their home, either because of the need for specialized care, or for proximity to family and friends.
Although it may be impossible to prevent some disruption, the availability of late registration can help people retain their important right to participate in our democracy during these difficult times. Disability Rights Montana has helped many patients register after the regular deadline to ensure that they didn’t lose their right to vote because they needed hospital care.
Eliminating late registration on election day makes it impossible to correct simple mistakes and errors in the registration process discovered on election day.