State Politics

A missing word — just 2 letters — was all it took to kill this bill

House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, speaks to the House State Affairs Committee on Feb. 14, 2018.
House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, speaks to the House State Affairs Committee on Feb. 14, 2018. Idaho Statesman file

Further proof of the importance of English teachers and copy editors: An effort to keep Idaho voter records out of a flawed multi-state database was brought down by a missing two-letter word.

The bill as of Tuesday is “officially dead,” said its sponsor, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise.

The House State Affairs Committee on Feb. 14 voted to hold a hearing on the legislation to end Idaho’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a program aimed at finding duplicate voter registrations and possible fraud.

But after the bill was printed, an error was discovered in its key sentence:

“(T)he secretary of state shall have no power or authority and the secretary of state shall not allow, cause or disseminate any voter information to the interstate voter registration crosscheck system.”

As written, the bill strips the secretary of state of “power and authority.”

Adding the word “to” after “authority” would do what the bill intended: limit the secretary of state’s power and authority as it applies to Crosscheck.

The drafting error was enough to derail the bill, Erpelding told the Statesman.

“It was one error, easily fixed in general orders, but the chairman refused to hear it,” he said, referring to a process in which bills can be corrected or amended on the House floor.

State Affairs Chairman Tom Loertscher, R-Iona, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday said it had not yet made a decision on Idaho’s future participation in Crosscheck.

“We are simply waiting to see what changes they (Crosscheck) are making in their security plans and protocols,” Deputy Secretary Chad Houck said.

Cynthia Sewell: 208-377-6428, @CynthiaSewell

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