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Secretary Linda McCulloch Supports Current Voter Registry Requirements

January 20, 2009

(Helena) - Secretary of State Linda McCulloch yesterday urged lawmakers to oppose changing the proof of residency requirements for voter registration in Montana. According to the state's chief election official, current law adequately meets the requirements of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

"It is my duty to make voting uncomplicated and accessible to a greater number of Montanans, while ensuring the accuracy of the state's election results," said McCulloch as she addressed the House State Administration Committee during a hearing for House Bill 99. "We should not deny students or any voter who claims residency in Montana, their fundamental right to vote."

HB99 proposes to change the law to require voters to present Montana specific identification in order to register to vote, to sign an election register, and to receive a ballot. Currently, potential voters are required to provide a valid driver's license from any state or a social security number and another acceptable form of identification.

"My main point of contention regarding this bill proposal is that it seems to target college students, who in my opinion, have every right to choose whether to cast their vote in the town they grew up in and still consider their hometown OR in the town they currently live in and attend college," said McCulloch.

McCulloch said she understands that the bill is attempting to address the potential problem of voter fraud, but that the proposal is not the correct solution.

"If a student, or any other citizen of the United States, casts more than one ballot in an election, they are breaking the law," said McCulloch. "There are provisions in both federal and state laws that clearly define voter fraud as an illegal and punishable act."

"HB99 does not comply with my goal to maintain well-run elections in the state of Montana and therefore, I cannot support this bill," concluded McCulloch.