BOISE — The Senate State Affairs Committee voted Wednesday to send an anti-”ballot harvesting” bill to the 14th Order for amendments.
The Senate’s 14th Order stipulates when the bill is taken up on the floor, any senator can offer amendments to it.
Introduced by House Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, HB 223 would make it a misdemeanor to possess someone else’s ballot and a felony to possess more than six. Exceptions would be made for family members as well as postal workers.
Ballot harvesting has not occurred in Idaho, Moyle said, and he defended the bill is a preventative measure, as ballot harvesting has occurred in other states.
Deputy Secretary of State Jason Hancock spoke in support of the bill Wednesday, saying an increasing number of states are outlawing the practice, but it remains legal in Idaho by default.
“The problem is that many ballot harvesters … who do this, especially those who do it at-scale, tend to be some of the most partisan players in our process,” Hancock said.
He pointed to a recent example in North Carolina, where a Congressional election likely changed due to ballot harvesting by a campaign worker.
On Wednesday, the bill had yet to be amended to clarify that it would be a misdemeanor for possessing six or fewer ballots and a felony for more. Moyle apologized to the committee for not including the amendments in the current draft of the bill.
“There are lots of times when we do not see the amendments until we’re on the floor,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise. “That’s the way our process works.”
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, who unsuccessfully moved to keep the bill in committee, said, “there is no amount of amending this” that would sway her opposition to the bill. It’s “unconscionable” that people who help deliver ballots for the “least able people in our community” could be treated as felons and have their rights taken away, Stennett said.
“It sends a very clear message that we don’t trust our population and somehow we’re doing something fraudulently, which we aren’t,” she said.
Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, on the other hand, said he could imagine supporting some amendments, but speculation in recent days about what might be added to the bill has been broad.
“What’s likely to happen if we send it to the 14th Order, is there are going to be a variety of different amendments, not simply from the sponsors of this bill,” Burgoyne said.
The committee sent HB 223 to the 14th Order in a voice vote. After a period of time on the reading calendar, the bill will be presented in the full Senate for amendments.