HB 150, the House-passed bill that sought to limit early voting in Idaho counties so that it could occur only from three weeks before an election to one week before, ran into trouble in the Senate State Affairs Committee this morning. Sen. Marv Hagedorn’s motion to pass the bill died for lack of a second. Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, then moved to send the bill to the Senate’s amending order for changes, to expand it to add another week of possible early voting time for counties; Hagedorn seconded the motion. Sen. Todd Lakey spoke against the motion. “This seems to be more about the convenience for the candidate than for the electorate,” he said. “I don’t like curtailing it. I don’t know if the amending order is the right way to handle this. I prefer to see a more consensus bill come forward if there is one.” Hagedorn’s motion then died on a 4-4 tie, with Sens. Hagedorn, Hill, Winder and Lodge supporting it; and Sens. Lakey, Stennett, Buckner-Webb and Siddoway opposing it.
“HB 150 improves the early voting in Idaho and provides clarity and consistency to our elections,” Rep. Dustin Manwaring, R-Pocatello, the bill’s author, told the committee. “This legislation closes the open-ended start time for early voting. It fixes inconsistencies from county to county.” He said, “It increases local control, because it increases accountability of our county clerks. … It takes away the opportunity for nefarious action, for them to change early voting opportunities from election to election at their discretion.”
His co-sponsor, Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, said few Idaho voters choose to take advantage of early voting more than three weeks before an election. “Keep in mind some counties are staffing this effort for up to seven weeks before Election Day,” he said. “It seems to me those human resources would be better served working on other projects”