Idaho students are suing the state to overturn a new law that will eliminate student ID cards as an acceptable form of voter identification at polling stations.
The Idaho chapter of March for Our Lives and a 17-year-old college student, Rosaura Albizo Barron, filed a lawsuit Friday to overturn the statute, HB 124, on constitutional grounds. Their complaint alleges that HB 124 “violates the 26th Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution] because it was motivated by a discriminatory purpose.”
“Many students like me rely on our student ID cards for transportation, accessibility and identification,” Barron said in a press release. “This law threatens not only our constitutional right to vote, but the only legitimacy we have. Speaking up for myself and students like me is an act of vulnerability, but I find it so important to stand up for my community and protect our voice and our basic human rights.”
Republican Gov. Brad Little signed HB 124 into law on Wednesday. The law amends Idaho’s Voter ID Act to remove “a current student ID” from the list of personal IDs voters must show at their polling station before casting a ballot. Other acceptable IDs include an Idaho driver’s license, passport or state-issued photo ID, tribal ID, or concealed carry gun license.
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Student advocates argue HB 124 discriminates against youth. “It was passed in response to an unprecedented surge in political activism among young Idahoans, along with other measures, such as restrictions on young people’s legislative speech, that represent a clear backlash to that activism.” it says in the complaint. “It surgically targets young Idahoans and makes it harder for them to vote because they are far more likely to have a student ID and have no other accepted forms of voter identification than older voters.”
They also claim that the law is a solution to finding a problem, writing, “Student ID card acceptance has not caused a single documented problem in the thirteen years since Idaho began requiring voter IDs.”
According to the lawsuit, “The number of 18- and 19-year-olds registered as voters in Idaho increased 81% between 2018 and 2022, by far the largest such increase nationwide.” Voter turnout among young voters has also increased , with 48% of eligible 18-29 year olds voting in 2020 – a 10 point increase from 2016 when only 38% of voters in that age group voted. The complaint also points to rising political activism among young people, including March for Our Lives’ gun control campaigns, as evidence that HB 124 is designed to discriminate against or politically punish young activists.
“In recent years, Idaho has witnessed an unprecedented surge in youth political activism,” said attorney Elizabeth Frost, representing the plaintiffs. “Inspiring young leaders from across Gem State have made their voices heard on important issues such as gun violence, climate change and reproductive health. Rather than address this growing youth activism, Idaho’s existing political power has sought to suppress it.
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“For over a decade, high school and college students have been able to use their student ID cards to verify their identities at polling stations, a practice that hasn’t caused a single documented problem,” Frost added.
Republican lawmakers supporting HB 124 referred to the legislation as an election integrity measure.
“The problem with them is that there is no uniformity,” the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. Scott Herndon, told R-Sagle during the ground debate. Herndon said only 104 people used student IDs to vote in the November 2022 election, arguing that the standard for obtaining a student ID is lower than other forms of identification. State records show that more than 599,000 Idahoans voted in this election the Idaho Capital Sun.
“The reason we want to get rid of the student ID card is that this method of identification does not allow us to be as sure that the voter who is going to vote at the ballot box is who they say they are,” Herndon said.
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In January, Republican state representative Tina Lambert expressed concern that students from neighboring Washington state or Oregon could vote in their states by mail and then “could come here with their student ID and vote in person and then fill out their ballot in another state.” vote twice.”
Multi-state voting is illegal in Idaho and a violation of federal election laws.
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March for Our Lives activists accused GOP lawmakers of trying to suppress their votes.
“HB 124 is preventing many young people from voting and taking part in the fight against gun violence in America. Gen Z grew up in a world where senseless gun violence is the norm, so we want to make sure we’re able to vote and raise our voice on these important issues,” said Lucy Glynn, new director of MFOL Idaho.
Also on Friday, the League of Women Voters, Idaho and BABE vote filed a separate lawsuit to prevent Idaho from enforcing HB 124.
“Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have used the false specter of voter fraud to make it difficult for young people to vote,” their complaint reads.
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