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Questions raised about ‘voter intimidation’ after sign is posted at east Idaho precinct

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REXBURG — Signs at polling locations in Madison County are being called voter intimidation by certain groups.

The information on the signs was provided by the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office to Madison County. The signs, which deal with voter residency, are being called voter intimidation by the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and Idaho Democrats.

A Rexburg resident tweeted pictures of signs she said she saw at her polling location Tuesday morning. Shortly after the photo was shared, the ACLU of Idaho tweeted that it had spoken with the Madison County Clerk and asked voters to contact the ACLU if they saw “similar signs of voter intimidation.”

“As a student, you should not be registering and voting in your college locale simply because you failed to register to vote at your true domicile,” the sign reads. “Registering to vote is a serious matter which should only be done after proper reflection.”

The Idaho Democratic Party also got involved on Twitter after the pictures were posted.

“You have the legal right to register to vote wherever you live,” they said in a tweet. “You can register to vote in Idaho after living in the state for 30 days. Don’t be intimidated out of voting because of these tactics.”

It turns out these signs came directly from the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office.

“Those signs are made available through our office,” State Election Director Lisa Mason told EastIdahoNews.com. “That is something that our office has approved of.”

The signs are meant to inform students about Idaho law concerning residency and voting. When a person registers to vote in Idaho, that moves their official residency from their home state to Idaho.

“We just want to make sure that students think about their registration — make sure that’s where they should be registering,” Mason said. “Particularly, if they are a younger student (they should) check with their parents to make sure it’s not going to cause them problems.”

The Secretary of State’s website emphasizes that students should only register to vote in Idaho if they plan on living in the state for an extended period of time. Changing residency has the potential to affect out-of-state scholarships and tuition.

Absentee voting is available for students who do not want to change their residency but still wish to vote; however, the deadline for absentee voting has passed.

Despite the information coming directly from the Secretary of State, the Idaho Democratic Party stands by its position that the signs are voter intimidation.

“This is just trying to prevent students from registering to vote in Idaho, plain and simple” Idaho Democratic Party Communications Director Lindsey Snider told EastIdahoNews.com. “We should be encouraging students to vote in Idaho.”

Madison County Clerk Kim Muir said every election year the county has to deal with issues caused by students who registered to vote and changed their residency to Idaho.

“Students come in and register to vote in Idaho. If they’re here on scholarship or if they need to keep their residency in their home state for tuition purposes, (changing residency) screws it up,” Muir said.

She said if students feel they are being intimidated into not voting because of the signs, she will take them down.

“We’re not trying to discourage anybody from registering and voting in Idaho. We just want them to be informed,” Muir said.

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