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Unions sue over law ending same-day voter registration

| September 24, 2021 7:00 AM

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A coalition including worker unions and a disability rights group filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen over a law passed earlier this year that eliminates same day voter registration

The lawsuit was filed by the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the Montana AFL-CIO, the Montana Association of Centers for Independent Living, and several citizens.

Montana Federal of Public Employees president Amanda Curtis called the law "a slap in the face" to the tens of thousands of Montana residents who use same-day voter registration and to the majority of Montanans who voted to maintain election-day registration when the question was on the ballot in 2014.

"People who work for a living do not always have the privilege to register to vote or address their issues with their registration during the regular business hours," said Montana AFL-CIO Executive Secretary James Holbrook. County election offices are open later on Election Day.

Montana Independent Living Project advocacy coordinator Joel Peden said same-day registration eases the experience of people living with disabilities by saving the need for two trips to election offices.

"To be able to eliminate one extra trip in our lives can make a huge difference," he said.

Republicans who supported the measure have said the law would help election officials conduct elections more efficiently while reducing long lines and voter frustration on election day.

Secretary of State spokesman Richie Melby called the lawsuit "completely baseless."

This is the fourth lawsuit challenging the same law passed earlier this year by the Republican-dominated Legislature.

Youth advocacy groups, Native American voting rights groups and the Montana Democratic Party have all already challenged the law. The plaintiffs in the most recent lawsuit said Thursday that this was the first filing to focus on how the law affects working Montanans and those living with disabilities.