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Missoulian State Bureau Harper likes ease of registration

HELENA - Online voter registration will make it easier for rural Montanans to participate, Rep. Hal Harper, D-Helena, said Monday while campaigning for secretary of state.

"This new way to register will make it easier and faster to register or change a voter's place of registration, especially for rural or isolated folks or people with handicapping conditions," Harper said in a press release. "It will also appeal to younger, computer-savvy citizens, many of whom have been avoiding the voting process."

Harper said his proposal is just for voter registration, not on-line voting. People should be cautious of Internet voting until security problems and other glitches are worked out, he said.

The Democrat also proposed placing Montana's administrative rules online and to allow businesses to file or re-file via computer for interactions with the secretary of state's office. Harper said this would eliminate current fees charged for viewing these rules, quarterly updates and the administrative register, services that cost businesses about $1,000 annually.

"Why do we charge businesses and citizens to find out about the rules we want them to follow?" Harper asked.

Harper is running for chief elections officer because term limits prevent Democratic Secretary of State Mike Cooney from seeking another term. His Democratic challenger is Paul Tuss, a Cut Bank economic development specialist.

Other candidates include Republicans Bob Brown of Whitefish, a former state Senate president, and Helena accountant Russell Fillner. J.R. Myers, a Reform Party candidate from Butte, and Mike Fellows a Missoula Libertarian also are in the race.

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