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HELENA -- The House approved and sent to the Senate a bill that cuts off voter registration at 5 p.m. on the Friday before an election instead of continuing to allow people to register and vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day.

House Bill 180, by Rep. Champ Edmunds, R-Missoula, won final House approval, 67-33, on a near party-line vote. Nearly all Republicans supported HB180, while all Democrats opposed it.

The 2005 Legislature changed state law to allow people to register and vote until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Previously, voters had to register 30 days or more before an election.

Since 2006, more than 18,000 Montanans have been able to register to vote and cast their ballots on Election Day, according to the secretary of state's office.

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Edmunds and Republicans argued it's a matter of personal responsibility for people to register to vote promptly and not wait until the last minute to register.

Democrats said it was a move to cut off some Montanans' access to the polls.

The bill now will go to a Senate committee for a hearing.

 

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