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Sunday, July 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Idaho students sue over ban on use of student ID for voting

Supporters of the new law claimed it was about reducing voter fraud, despite the fact that there have been no documented instances of student IDs being used to commit voter fraud.

(CN) — Students in Idaho filed a lawsuit Friday to block a new law that eliminates student ID cards as an acceptable form of voter identification at polling places.

"Many students such as myself rely on our student IDs for transportation, accessibility and identification," said Rosaura Albizo Barron, a senior at Boise High School who turns 18 in August, in a press release. "This bill not only threatens our constitutional right to vote, but the only legitimacy we have."

Elisabeth Frost, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys, added in the same press release: “In recent years, Idaho has enjoyed an unprecedented wave of youth political activism. Rather than engage with this growing youth activism, Idaho’s existing political power has tried to suppress it."

According to the lawsuit, "the number of 18- and 19-year-olds registered to vote in Idaho increased 81% between 2018 and 2022, the largest such increase nationwide by far." Turnout by young voters has also surged — 48% of eligible voters aged 18 to 29 cast ballots in 2020. And last year, an 18-year-old high school student, Shiva Rajbhandari, won a seat on the Boise School Board.

For 13 years, Idaho has had a law in place requiring voters to show a valid photo identification before voting. Acceptable forms of ID have included student ID cards, along with driver's licenses, other photo IDs issued by the state Department of Transportation available to those who don't drive, passports, tribal photo IDs and, since 2017, concealed-carry licenses.

Signed into law by Governor Brad Little on Wednesday, House Bill 124 was sold as an election integrity bill, meant to clamp down on voter fraud by forcing voters to bring forms of identification issued by the government — unlike student IDs, which are issued by schools.

"The problem with them is there is no uniformity,” said state Senator Scott Herndon, a Republican from Sagle who co-sponsored the bill, during debate. "The reason that we, again, want to get rid of the student ID is because we cannot have as much assurance through that method of identification that the voter standing at the poll to vote is who they say they are."

Representative Tina Lambert, a Republican from Caldwell, meanwhile argued “students, maybe from a state like Washington or Oregon where they vote by mail, may come over here with their student ID and vote in person and then fill out their ballot in another state, thereby voting twice.”

But in their complaint, filed in federal court, the plaintiffs say that "there have been no documented problems with voter fraud involving student identification during the 13 years in which such identification has been accepted in Idaho." In fact, there have been only 10 cases of voter or election fraud in Idaho since 2004 — and none involved any issue with IDs.

The complaint adds: "Simply put, there was no real problem to be solved, and the ‘solution’ to the made-up problem was both under- and over-inclusive of the concerns raised, including concerns about double voting and security of student identification."

According to the plaintiffs, the new law "will make it harder for young voters to vote and was intended to have that effect."

The Idaho chapter of March for Our Lives, a student-led organization known for its advocacy to reduce gun violence, joins Barron as plaintiff.

"HB 124 hinders many young people from casting their vote and being a part of the fight to end gun violence in America," said Lucy Glynn, a high school senior and director of March for our Lives Idaho, in a press release. "Gen Z has grown up in a world where senseless gun violence is the norm, so we want to make sure we are able to vote and make our voices heard on these important issues.”

On Friday afternoon, the League of Women Voters, Idaho, and Babe Vote filed a lawsuit to stop Idaho from enforcing HB 124. Like the March for Our Lives complaint, the second suit cites similar statistics on the surge in youth voter registration and participation.

"But rather than celebrate this surge in voter participation," the groups say in their complaint, "Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have used the false specter of voter fraud to make it harder for young people to vote."

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Categories / Civil Rights, Government, Politics, Regional

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