Groups Challenge New Montana Laws They Say Stifle Youth Vote

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Three organizations that encourage young adults to become involved in politics and civic action filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging new Montana laws they say will stifle the youth vote.

Montana Youth Action, the Forward Montana Foundation and the Montana Public Interest Research Group filed the lawsuit in state district court in Billings against Christi Jacobsen in her capacity as secretary of state.

They are challenging laws that limit the use of student ID cards for voter registration and identification and another that eliminates Election Day voter registration. They are also challenging a law that denies absentee ballots to people who have registered and will be old enough to vote in the upcoming election, but have not yet turned 18 when absentee ballots are issued.

The organizations argue the new bills are “voter suppression measures that land heavily on the young," and serve no compelling government interest.

“The laws at issue here were passed for no reason other than the professed bogeyman of voter fraud, for which legislators did not and could no produce evidence,” the complaint states.

Native American voting rights groups and the Montana Democratic Party have also challenged voting laws, including the one ending Election Day registration.

“The voters of Montana spoke when they elected a secretary of state that promised improved election integrity with voter ID and voter registration deadlines, and we will work hard to defend those measures,” Jacobsen has said.