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Proposed bill restricting absentee ballots dies in the Idaho House

A worker prepares absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C.
Gerry Broome
A worker prepares absentee ballots for mailing at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C., earlier this month.

The Idaho House has killed a bill restricting absentee ballots. The proposed text would have limited who could request an absentee ballot and only allow them for certain circumstances like being in the military, hospitalized or with a disability, attending university, participating in a religious mission or temporarily living out of state.

Vacations or no-excuse reasons would not have qualified for an exemption.

Bill sponsor Rep. Joe Alfieri (R-Coeur d’Alene) cited election conspiracies to support the measure and said the text would protect Idaho from the fate of other states.

“We're not seeing that here, frankly. You know why?” he said, talking about election fraud. “We're not on the radar screen. We're too small at this point, but we will get larger.”

Opponents questioned contradictory exemptions in the bill allowing university students to vote absentee but not community college students, and vagaries in what and who defines an illness to qualify for an absentee exemption.

Rep. Kenny Wroten (R-Nampa) said he would be voting through an absentee ballot in Nampa’s election on Tuesday and argued against the bill.

“We're talking about Idaho votes, which we have from pretty good authority that they are very secure,” he said, “You know, this just seems to be an answer to a problem that doesn't exist for us.”

Rep. Britt Raybould (R-Rexburg) also voted against the bill.

“Are we really comfortable with potentially making the fellow citizens in our state accidental criminals because we put forward a bill that adds unneeded complexity to a system that is currently not at risk of fraud, has not experienced fraud, and has worked just fine for the citizens of this state?” she asked.

In his closing statements, Alfieri said his goal was to preserve the republic which functions through the voting process.

“It should not be a convenience,” he said.

The bill died after a 30-40 vote.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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