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Bench trial on Montana voting laws starting Monday in Billings

Judge Michael Moses
Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-12 16:51:55-04

HELENA - A bench trial begins Monday over the constitutionality of three controversial voting laws passed in 2021.

The three laws together ended Election Day voter registrations, banned compensation for ballot collection and reclassified student IDs as secondary forms of identification.

The trial is expected to last about two weeks and will be presided over by Yellowstone County District Court Judge Michael G. Moses.

The plaintiffs in the case include four tribal governments, the Montana Democratic Party, Western Native Voice and other advocacy organizations.

The defendant is Montana Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen.

The three laws are already in place, despite an attempt by plaintiffs earlier in the year to reverse implementation while the case was argued.

Moses delivered a partial judgment in the case at the end of July on a law that restricted who received an absentee ballot.

Moses ruled Montanans who turned 18 years old in the month before Election Day are allowed to vote by absentee, even if they were 17 years old when the ballot was sent.

The GOP-led Legislature passed the new voting laws. On final votes no Democratic lawmaker voted for the bills.