Montana's Republican governor signs new law that makes it harder to vote

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (flickr /  USDA Rural Development)

It will be harder to vote in Montana in future elections after GOP Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a pair of voter suppression bills into law on Monday that repeal same-day voter registration and tighten voter ID requirements.

"These new laws establish new best practices to ensure the continued integrity of Montana’s elections for years to come," Gianforte said in a statement after signing the two pieces of legislation.

H.B. 176 eliminates same-day voter registration —which has been in place for 15 years — and now ends the registration period at noon the day before the election. S.B. 169 targets students in the state, eliminating student IDs as a valid form of identification to register to vote.

Montana Republicans made it harder to vote even though the party did well in the 2020 election, taking over the governorship for the first time since 2005 and expanding their majorities in both the state House and Senate.

But Montana joins a trend as Republican state lawmakers across the country seek to make it harder to vote after the party began to spread the lie that the 2020 election was stolen. It's a belief that GOP voters now believe, according to polling, even after multiple audits and recounts have shown the election was secure and free of fraud.

Yet in order to appease the base — as well as Trump himself, who has demanded voter suppression legislation — GOP-controlled legislatures across the country have either passed or are attempting to pass voter suppression laws just like Montana has.

Shortly after Gianforte signed the voter suppression bill into law, the Montana Democratic Party filed a lawsuit alleging the law explicitly targets younger voters.

"While these new laws will burden all Montana voters, they specifically target the youngest members of the electorate just months after they turned out to vote at record rates," the lawsuit states. "There is no legitimate justification for these restrictions, much less any sufficiently weighty state interest to justify their burdens on the fundamental right to vote."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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