Idaho adds new requirements for voters

With the 2024 election cycle quickly approaching, there are some things for new voters to consider before they register and go to the polls.

House Bill 340, an amendment to the existing voter registration law in Idaho centering around the requirements for registration, went into effect on July 1. The bill passed 23-12 in the state Senate and 59-4 in the House with seven absent from the vote.

The recently passed amendment allows for a new type of identification offered by the state of Idaho in the form of a “no-fee identification card”. This card will be valid for four years.

According to the legislation, the alternative identification card will be issued to “any individual 18 years of age or older who has not possessed a current driver’s license in the preceding six months”.

If someone is wanting the new no-fee ID card, they must indicate on their voter application that an identification card is needed. Card-holders are entitled to one free replacement.

HB 124 removes the ability for voters to use a student identification card issued by a high school or accredited university in the state of Idaho as a form of identification for registration.

According to the legislature’s statement of purpose, “There is a lack of uniformity in the sophistication of student ID cards.”

Individuals and organizations opposed to this bill and other bills of this type, argue these policies will make it more difficult for new and younger voters to get registered and vote.

“It’s removed a couple of these things like student IDs that proponents of the bill have said can open things up to fraud,” Charles Hunt, an assistant professor of political science in the school of public service at Boise State University, said.“There doesn’t seem to be too much evidence out there that student IDs are being used in any kind of fraudulent way.”

Babe Vote and March For Our Lives Idaho are filing lawsuits against the state of Idaho in response to the bill.

March For Our Lives is a national group with a chapter in Idaho whose mission states “born out of a tragic school shooting, March For Our Lives is a courageous youth-led movement dedicated to promoting civic engagement, education, and direct action by youth to eliminate the epidemic of gun violence.”

“That’s a vital form of identification used to register to vote, especially because many of the polls are located near or on campuses,” Eloisa Harper, a junior at Boise High School and one of the co-directors for the March For Our Lives Idaho chapter said.

Harper’s co-director, Lucy Glynn, a senior at Boise High School added, “For us being co-directors of March For Our Lives, and young people ourselves, the biggest thing that worries us is the ability for young voters to have a say in the future.”

The lawsuit filed by the Idaho chapter of March For Our Lives alleges this new legislation violates the 26th Amendment. In addition to this, they allege the law is designed to make it harder for certain groups of people, such as younger and new voters, to exercise their right to vote.

“I think the first thing we have to recognize is that this law doesn’t make it easier for anybody to vote,” Glynn said. “From our perspective, it’s just an unnecessary hurdle.”

The 26th Amendment states in section one, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen 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.”

State Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, is the sponsor of HB 124. In the floor debate over the bill Herdon said “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.”

The Idaho Senate voted 28-7 to pass House Bill 124.

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