June 17, 2011
CONTACT INFORMATION: Harper Lawson, (406) 444-5359
Montana Ranks High in Study of Voting Access for Younger Citizens
Rock the Vote’s “Voting System Scorecard” ranks Montana as the 4th best state in America at promoting access, participation, and registration among young voters ages 18-29
Helena, MT – Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch today touted a newly released national study of state voting systems as even more proof that Montana’s voting laws are working to promote and protect the rights of all voters, including young and first time voters between the ages of 18-29.
Rock the Vote’s first ever “Voting System Scorecard” ranked Montana as the 4th best state in the nation when it comes to having polices and laws that support the participation of younger voters. The study looked at the states’ laws and policies in three key areas: (1) voter registration, (2) casting a ballot and (3) young voter preparation.
“One of the best investments we can make in Montana’s future is to ensure that every voter, including our younger and first-time voters, is able to cast a ballot,” McCulloch said. “Common sense voter protection laws in Montana like Election Day voter registration, no excuse absentee balloting, annual absentee registration, and enhanced overseas/military voting access, have all helped eliminate unnecessary and bureaucratic barriers to the ballot box.”
The full 2011 Voting System Scorecard and supporting materials can be found at http://www.rockthevote.com/research/2011-voting-system-scorecard.html. The study includes the rankings and detailed information on the set of criteria used to develop the analysis.
"By providing Election Day registration, making the ballot box accessible, and prioritizing teaching civics in high schools, Montana has addressed some of the key components of a modern and functioning elections system," said Heather Smith, President of Rock the Vote. "I am encouraged to see Secretary McCulloch push measures that would make the system even more accessible for young voters."
Montana could have potentially ranked even higher in the study had the recently adjourned legislature considered more thoroughly and passed two of McCulloch’s election proposals. One proposal (SB 33) would have allowed online voter registration for Montana residents who have a qualified Montana issued driver’s license or state ID card. The other proposal (HB 88) would have allowed high school students aged 16 and 17 to serve as youth election judges, fostering greater civic participation among future Montana voters and helping relieve the burden that Montana’s election administrators have filling vacant election judge positions.
“I am pleased that Montana has ranked high in the study, but there is more work to do,” McCulloch said. “Since voting is inherently about the future, we can never afford to risk allowing Montana’s voting process to get stuck in the past. That’s why my office is always looking at ways to increase voter participation for every Montanan, while protecting the integrity of every election.”