Tester blasts nix of same-day registration

Bozeman Daily Chronicle

by Daniel Person

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., blasted the Montana Legislature's vote to nix same-day voter registration and make the Friday before Election Day the last day voters can get on the rolls.

Tester won his seat in 2006, the first election in Montana when same-day registration was in place, when lines of new voters stretched out of courthouses across the state on Election Night.

The flocks of last-minute voters, many of them young people, were thought to have benefited Tester's successful campaign to unseat former Sen. Conrad Burns.

Democrats have broadly criticized the proposed change in Montana law, which awaits action by Gov. Brian Schweitzer, saying almost 19,000 voters have registered on Election Day since 2006 and no instances of fraud have arisen as a result.

"This measure is a punch in the face to American Democracy. Voting is a sacred right, yet the Legislature's irresponsible decision simply makes voting in Montana harder, not easier," Tester said in a statement. "We should be doing everything we can to increase voter participation, not deny Montanans the right to have a say in their government.

"The fact that some Montana legislators want to stack the deck by turning away voters on Election Day is politics at its worst," he said.