Senate ponders decrease in age of election board members

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BOISE — The Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee voted to introduce a bill Wednesday that would decrease the age of students allowed to be appointed to an election board in Idaho.

There has recently not been enough interest in elections board positions in certain counties to meet demand, Kelli Brassfield, the Idaho Association of Counties government affairs associate, told the committee.

“In our smaller counties, we oftentimes run into a very limited amount of individuals who are able to, or want to work in our poll locations,” Brassfield said. “And so this legislation would reduce the age from 17 to 16 to broaden the base — allowing more workers in our poll locations and also allowing our students to get more experience working at elections.”

Currently, according to Idaho Code, Section 34-303, two high school students may be appointed to elections boards in order for the students to help out their communities and learn first-hand about the democratic process.

Sen. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, motioned to introduce the bill after sharing his own experiences with the issue.

“My parents have been holding the elections in their precinct in their garage for many years,” he said. “They have 111 people in their precinct and it’s spread out over quite a number of square miles, and so they do have issues in finding judges and finding people to help.”

Hagedorn also said he thinks allowing juniors in high school to participate in the election process “is the right thing to do.”

The committee voted unanimously to introduce the legislation for a full hearing.

Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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