Montana helps ID-less voters

Montana election information page

Last month, Montana officials found that the new system to access the state's identification databases allowed hundreds of citizens to vote despite the fact that they arrived at polling places without ID during the state's June election.

The Voter Verification Service is one of several new initiatives that Montana officials are putting in place under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. All 56 counties in the state signed up for the service.

Extensive statewide education meant that few citizens showed up without identification, according to state officials. But instead of turning away those that did arrive without a drivers license or other form of ID, polling workers could use the Voter Verification Service to look up the individual's name, date of birth, address and drivers license number or last four digits of their Social Security number. The service queries the state Justice Department's drivers license and state identification database.

More than 600 people were able to vote after being verified through the service, officials said.

"In a state where people often live more than 20 miles from a polling place, we are proud to offer a solution that kept hundreds of citizens from being sent home without being able to vote," Secretary of State Bob Brown said in a statement.

Officials from Montana Interactive LLC, a subsidiary of NIC INC, run the Voter Verification Service. The company also manages the state's Web portal. The service will be available for use by local polling places in the November presidential election, officials said.

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