Mandeville's election security plan

Thursday, March 5, 2020
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Courtesy photo Forrest Mandeville

As a candidate to be Montana’s next Secretary of State, I am excited to announce my plan to protect the security of our elections while ensuring everyone’s right to vote is protected.

This three-part plan prioritizes security, accessibility, and maintaining confidence in our election system, all ideals and goals for which I have advocated during my three terms in the House.

First, Montana needs stricter voter identification laws. 36 states have some form of voter ID requirement, of which Montana is one of the weakest.

According to the non-partisan National Conference o f State Legislatures (NCSL), Montana’s voter ID requirement is classified as Non-Photo ID, Non-Strict.

While an ID is requested at a polling place, photo ID is not required and a utility bill is an acceptable form of ID.

A utility bill is not identification and should not be treated as such. Montana should be a leader in the area of election security, and photo ID should be required to vote.

I believe that the 18 states that require photo ID can provide many models on which to base legislation, and there are many options to allow exceptions for voters who have a religious objection to being photographed, lost their ID, or have a need to remain confidential.

Next, same-day voter registration, in which people can register to vote through the end of business on election day, needs to end. I have discussed the issue with election administrators throughout the state and the concerns about same-day voter registration are constant.

This practice creates long lines at the courthouse on election day, stressful work environments for election workers, and delays in counting ballots and announcing election results. Same-day voter registration puts unnecessary strain on our election system, including on our hard-working election workers.

As Secretary of State, I will advocate ending voter registration no later than the Friday before an election.

Finally, accessible polling place elections need to be ensured whenever possible. Voting in person at a polling place on a paper ballot is by far the most secure way to vote.

Additionally, many people may need the assistance that polling places allow, including an accessible ballot marking device to help disabled individuals cast their vote. I have used accessible voting machines myself, and encourage others to use them as well to increase familiarity with these machines, but also to decrease any stigmas that may be attached to using them.

The right to choose our leaders is a fundamental American value, and we must ensure that all Americans have the ability to participate in free and secure elections. This includes have polling places that meet ADA accessibility standards and have accessible voting machines.

I have been a tireless advocate for secure and accessible elections throughout my three terms in the Montana State House, and look forward to bringing these same values and work ethic to the Secretary of State’s office.

The common-sense steps outlined above are simple but important ways Montana can continue to ensure our election system remains secure.