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Voter ID will restore faith in Montana’s elections

Voter ID will restore faith in Montana’s elections

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Jason Ellsworth

Jason Ellsworth.

Here in Montana, we must protect our elections' integrity, but it is impossible to ensure that the person showing up to cast a ballot is a lawful voter without the right tools. To ensure our elections are safe and secure, strengthening voter identification requirements is a required step. That’s why I was proud to support Senate Bill 169 along with my Republican colleagues in the Senate.

Last November, Montanans gave us a clear mandate to pass stronger voter ID laws and ensure free and fair elections. As legislators, it is now our obligation to deliver what the overwhelming majority of Montanans voted for, and Senate Republicans will do so by requiring voter ID.

Senate Bill 169 establishes the requirement of a federal or state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot on Election Day, but to be clear, these laws will not prevent any Montanans from exercising their right to vote. For those who do not have a valid government ID, Senate Republicans are working to provide alternative ID forms.

Our goal is to restore integrity and trust in our elections and make Montana a national leader in free and fair elections and that’s what Senate Bill 169 accomplishes.

Many election clerks support voter ID legislation and several came to the Capitol in Helena to testify on behalf of stronger election security legislation. We should listen to them closely because these are the people on the frontlines of securing our elections, know where the pitfalls are, and know the most about the process.

Election security has never been more at risk, and this issue is at the forefront of Montanans' minds. That's a huge reason why our new Secretary of State, Christi Jacobsen, who campaigned on this very issue, received more votes than any other candidate in November. This is not by accident, and it must not be taken lightly.

And for those who say that election fraud is nonexistent, here are just a few proven cases. In 2019, a Mexican national was convicted of voter fraud and identity theft after using a deceased acquaintance's identity to vote in the California elections. And contrary to what you might expect, the gentleman was a registered Republican who voted for former President Trump in 2016. The Heritage Foundation's voter fraud database found 1,300 instances of voter fraud that led to more than 1,100 criminal convictions as well as several dozen civil penalties and diversion programs.

However, it goes deeper than just statistics, it’s about establishing trust in our elections, belief in the results, and ensuring electoral winners are declared without a shred of doubt.

We must restore faith in our democracy, and Senate Bill 169 is a huge step in the right direction.

Regardless of party affiliation, no one in Montana wants to see a single lawful voter disenfranchised or have any legal Montana voter’s voice minimized by any illegal votes. We all want the same thing — fair and free elections that cannot have their integrity called into question. I am proud to support SB 169 and move Montana closer to this reality.

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