Idaho Judge Dismisses State-Level Lawsuit Challenging Youth Voter Suppression Laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, Oct. 2, an Idaho judge dismissed a state-level lawsuit challenging a set of Idaho voter suppression laws that eliminate the use of student IDs as an acceptable form of identification for voter registration and in-person voting. 

Yesterday’s order stems from a lawsuit filed back in March by BABE VOTE — a youth voter engagement organization — and the League of Women Voters alleging that two recently enacted statutes violated young Idahoans’ right to equal protection and right to vote under the Idaho Constitution.

One of the challenged laws, House Bill 124, eliminates the use of a student ID as an acceptable form of identification for in-person voting and limits acceptable forms of identification to the following:

  • An Idaho driver’s license or identification card issued by the Idaho Transportation Department;
  • A passport or other U.S. government issued photo ID;
  • A tribal identification card with a photo or
  • A license to carry concealed weapons.

The lawsuit also brought claims against another law, House Bill 340, which imposes strict photo ID and proof of residency requirements to register to vote and similarly precludes student IDs as an acceptable form of identification. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 340, voters only had to prove their residency and make an oath or affirmation of their identity. Under H.B. 340’s new regime, voters have to produce one of the aforementioned forms of identification to register to vote as well as additional proof of residency if they register using a passport or other government issued ID. 

Both laws were enacted against the backdrop of record-high levels of youth voter participation in recent elections. According to Tufts University, Idaho has seen a 66% increase in registration for voters aged 18 and 19 between November 2018 and September 2022, by far the highest registration rate for new, young voters in the country.

In yesterday’s opinion ruling in favor of Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) and dismissing the lawsuit for failure to state a claim, the court held that the challenged laws do not burden the right to vote or the right to equal protection under the Idaho Constitution. 

“The removal of student identification cards as permissible means of identification at the polls or for voter registration under HB 124 and HB 340 does not unduly burden voters; there are other valid and free means to identify oneself at the polls and for voter registration. Students are not a protected class,” the opinion reads. 

According to the opinion, the Legislature has a “legitimate” purpose in creating “uniformity of the voting process and voter registration” and the “removal of student identification cards as a means for proving personal identification…as well as establishing a no-fee identification card available under certain circumstances meet the goal of unifying the voting requirements and process.”

A separate lawsuit challenging H.B. 124 and H.B. 340 is ongoing in federal court. The federal case, brought by March for Our Lives Idaho and the Idaho Alliance for Retired Americans, asserts that the laws violate the 26th Amendment, which prohibits denying voting rights “on account of age.” The lawsuit also contends that H.B. 340’s voter registration requirements impose an unconditional poll tax in violation of the 24th and contravene the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.  

Read the opinion here.

Learn more about the case here.