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  Comments (2) Total Thursday Apr. 24, 2014
Move Montana’s Elections Forward
Guest Column
A bipartisan election commission led by the chief campaign lawyers for President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney has made recommendations for making elections run more smoothly across the country.

Notably, the report presented by this presidential commission urges state and local election officials to achieve a “modern, efficient and responsive” election system that attends to the needs of all voters. Montana is ahead of the curve in this regard. With convenient access to absentee ballots, early online voting for military men, women and their families, and transparent scrutiny of the electronic vote-counting machines, Montanans continue to enjoy some of the most secure, accurate and honest elections in the country.

Even so, there is room for improvement. Particularly, we should adopt the Commission’s unanimous recommendation that states provide voters the option to register to vote online. It’s a common-sense improvement that I suggest to the Legislature every two years, only to see the proposal rejected by Republicans.

Why they continually do this is a mystery to me. But hopefully now that the top Republican election lawyer in the country is advocating for online registration, the Legislature will finally do the right thing when it convenes again in 2015.

In recent years, we’ve enhanced Montana’s elections process through the use of new technology to ensure that every Montanan has access to elections – yet our voter registration process remains in the virtual dark ages.

Just about everywhere in Montana, and in the U.S., people are filing secure documents online. We pay our bills and taxes online, do our banking online, update our driver’s license and registration online, and file many of our important business and personal documents online. One thing we can’t do online in Montana is register to vote.

Nineteen states, under Democrat and Republican leadership, have already authorized or implemented online voter registration – a move the Commission found “can expand access, reduce administrative costs, prevent fraud and irregularity, and reduce polling place congestion.” It’s a clear step in the right direction, and we’re past-due on moving the issue forward.

I would encourage voters to read through the Commission’s findings, which can be found online at www.supportthevoter.gov. As you consider your ballot in the Primary and General elections, consider the importance of protecting your right to vote and the right for your family, friends and neighbors to do so too. Let’s all move Montana’s elections forward.

Linda McCulloch is the secretary of state in Montana.
On 02-08-14, Christopher M. C. Cunningham commented....
Online registration seems pretty sensible to me, though there is so much more that could be done. Voter turnout may improve if elections were held all at once on a national holiday devoted specifically to that occasion. We could switch to proportional representation, which would forever end…
Kellyn Brown
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