A Republican representative from Kalispell says voters should be required to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Representative Derek Skees introduced his proposal to change Montana’s law during a House Committee meeting today, while opponents argued the bill would make it harder for some people to vote. Rep. Skees says his bill, HB-357, is an attempt to protect the state’s elections system from voter fraud. “To make sure the folks who are voting in Montana, are actually the folks eligible to vote in Montana,” Skees says. Last October, Montana’s then Secretary of State issued a statement saying there were no verified incidents of voter fraud in Montana. During today’s committee meeting on his bill, Representative Skees told lawmakers that he could not point to any prosecuted cases of voter fraud. But he said it could happen and does happen, so safeguards like requiring voters to show photo ID are needed.
“Voter fraud is like trash on the highway,” says Skees. “You know somebody committed it, but can you say who put that trash there? Once voter fraud occurs, it’s difficult to prove. So if the situation exists where it could, then my constitutional oath to the state of Montana is that I will do everything in my power to ensure the purity of the elected process, and as the process works now, you can do bad things.”
No one testified in support of Skees’ bill. Opponents to the bill say it will make it harder for some people to vote, especially inhibiting the voting access of students, senior citizens, people with disabilities, minorities and the poor.
“Requiring photo ID for voting, especially when not needed, for any other purpose, creates an unnecessary and unreasonable burden on otherwise eligible voters,” says Kathy Bramer.