Idaho Sued for Removing Student IDs From Valid Voter ID List

March 19, 2023 by Dan McCue
Idaho Sued for Removing Student IDs From Valid Voter ID List
Idaho Elections official and volunteers, election night 2022.

BOISE, Idaho — Students in Idaho are suing the state after Republican Gov. Brad Little signed a bill into law that removes student ID cards as an acceptable form of voter identification at polling places.

In a complaint filed in the federal court in Boise by voting rights attorney Marc Elias, the plaintiffs March for Our Lives Idaho and 17-year-old Rosaura Albizo Barron, allege the new law, previously known as HB 124, violates the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

That amendment, which went into law in April 1971, states that “the right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of age.”

In this case, the students contend, the bill signed into law by Gov. Little last Wednesday was “motivated by a discriminatory purpose.” 

“It was adopted in response to an unprecedented wave of political activism by young Idahoans, alongside other measures like restrictions on legislative testimony by young people that represent a clear backlash to that activism,” the complaint says. “It surgically targets young Idahoans and makes it harder for them to vote, because they are by far more likely to have student identification, and to lack other accepted forms of voter identification, than older voters.” 

Student identification has been accepted at Idaho polling places since the state first adopted a voter identification requirement 13 years ago. 

Since then, the plaintiffs say, there has not been a single documented problem with student IDs being accepted at polling places.

“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,” the complaint says. 

As previously reported in The Well News, Idaho state Sen. Scott Herndon, a Republican who sponsored the bill in his chamber, explained there were several concerns that prompted him to take action.

“First, there is the lack of uniformity of the information presented on a student ID,” he wrote in an email to The Well News. “Some lack a photo, some lack a current address, some lack information that is contained in a passport, driver license, state issued ID card or other federal or tribal ID’s.

“Second, there is a lack of depth of proof of identification to obtain a student ID, such as a birth certificate and Social Security number,” he said.

“Three, student ID’s are not government ID’s,” Herndon continued. “Government ID’s require surrendering one ID to obtain another — such as surrendering an out-of-state driver license to obtain an in-state license. Student ID’s do not have the same requirement, leaving more security risk for the ID itself and who is in the possession of one.”

In a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit, Rosaura Barron said, “many students such as myself rely on our student IDs for transportation, accessibility and identification.

“This bill not only threatens our constitutional right to vote, but the only legitimacy we have. Speaking out on behalf of myself and students like me is an act of vulnerability, but I feel that it’s so important to advocate for my community and protect our voice and our basic human rights,” Barron said.

The plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the law is unconstitutional, that the government be enjoined from enforcing it, as well as court costs and attorneys’ fees.

According to Tufts University’s civic research center, Idaho has seen a 66% increase in registration for voters aged 18 and 19 between November 2018 and September 2022. This is the highest registration rate for new, young voters in the country. 

Currently acceptable forms of ID at the polls in Idaho include a state-issued driver’s license, a passport or state-issued ID card with a photograph, a tribal identification card or a concealed carry weapons license. 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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