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Idaho House rejects eliminating affidavit voting

The dome of the Idaho Statehouse at sunset with an American flag and Idaho flag.
James Dawson
Boise State Public Radio

Registered voters in Idaho who forget their ID will still be able to sign an affidavit at the polls to get a ballot.

House lawmakers narrowly rejected a bill to ditch the practice Tuesday morning on a 33-36 vote with one legislator absent.

If you’re already registered to vote but show up to the polls without your ID, you can sign a legal affidavit promising you are who you say you are. If you lie, you could face a felony charge.

Still, supporters of the bill argue the affidavit process inherently boosts the possibility of fraud.

“The fact is if you vote with an affidavit, you can cheat. Cheaters cheat,” said Rep. Joe Palmer (R-Meridian). “They break the law.”

Rep. Joe Alfieri (R-Coeur d’Alene), who sponsors the legislation, previously said Secretary of State Phil McGrane supported the effort.

In an email to all legislators on Monday, McGrane urged them to vote against it, saying there are other ways to strengthen securities within the affidavit process without eliminating it altogether.

“When it comes to elections, there is an important balance we must maintain to ensure both access and security,” he said.

Several Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the measure, saying it goes too far, including Rep. Jack Nelsen (R-Jerome).

He says poll workers in Jerome County work hard to run fair elections.

“Frankly, if I stood in front of them and told them that they were cheating somebody out of the vote, I think they would crawl over the table and punch me out,” Nelsen said.

This is Alfieri’s second attempt to add further restrictions to the voting process. Another bill he sponsored would’ve forced voters to meet one of a handful of criteria to vote absentee – another measure that failed in the House.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio

I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season. If you have a tip, please get in touch!