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Legislative Referendum to End Same Day Registration Clears Second House Hearing

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Photo courtesy of Cle0patra/Flickr

A floor debate over a legislative referendum (Senate Bill 405) to get rid of same day registration in Montana brought nearly an hour of speeches from House members today, April 16.

The bill is currently bears the title:

AN ACT PROTECTING THE INTEGRITY OF MONTANA ELECTIONS BY ENDING LATE VOTER REGISTRATION ON THE FRIDAY BEFORE ELECTION DAY AND ELIMINATING ELECTION DAY REGISTRATION; ENSURING COMPLIANCE WITH THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT; PROVIDING THAT THE PROPOSED ACT BE SUBMITTED TO THE QUALIFIED ELECTORS OF MONTANA THE GENERAL ELECTION TO BE HELD IN NOVEMBER 2014.

Many democrats claimed the phrasing of the referendum was misleading and claimed that the bill would strip voters of their rights, but an amendment proposed to change the phrasing died on the floor.

Many republicans responded by arguing that the current system leads to last minute chaos at the poling booth and does not allow for same day voting for Montanans who might be overseas or in military service.

In his closing statement, bill Sponsor Ted Washburn of Bozeman argued that the current system negatively effects older voters, because they don’t have the same physical fortitude to wait for six hours in November weather to vote.

Debate on the referendum only ended after the house voted along party lines to stop debate in a cloture vote. In the end, Senate Bill 405 narrowly passed on a 60 to 40 split.

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