MONTANA - The Montana Democratic Party is challenging Governor Greg Gianforte's decision to sign two new election laws into play. They've filed a lawsuit in response, and both sides are sounding off as the charges are sparking a debate among voters across the state.
The lawsuit claims both bills SB 169 and HB 176 violate the Montana Constitution. The Montana Democratic Party is asking the court to stop Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen from enforcing what they're calling voter suppression bills.
You can read the full case here.
Each bill will soon bring some changes to the voting process in the state. The first requires a photo identification to vote. Republicans argue the move will make elections more secure and accurate, but people against said voter fraud was never a real issue in Montana.
"We have no data that voter fraud is occurring under the current laws, and we ask that you not make them more complicated," Sam Forstag, with ACLU of Montana, said.
The other bill, HB 176, ends same day voter registration and changes late registration to noon the day before an election.
"I don't think it's unreasonable to say that you are registered the day before an election," supporter Ed Halland said.
People with physical handicaps testified against the bill Monday.
Each of the bills' sponsors have advocated for different voter rules since the beginning of the session, Senator Mike Cuffe for SB 169, and Rep. Sharon Greef for HB 176.
"We're making it a bulletproof process so we know that only Montana citizens are voting in Montana elections," Sen. Cuffe said.
"Changing the statute is a best practices approach to protect against voter fraud and ensure voter integrity," Rep. Greef said.
Montana Right Now will continue to follow this lawsuit and bring you the latest updates on air, online, and through our mobile app.