Pro-Voting Groups Sue Idaho Over Strict Voter Registration Law 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, April 17, March For Our Lives Idaho and the Idaho Alliance for Retired Americans filed an amended complaint in a federal lawsuit against Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) challenging two voter suppression laws that make it more difficult for Idahoans to register to vote and cast a ballot.

In today’s amended complaint, the plaintiffs add a challenge to a recently enacted anti-voting law, House Bill 340, that imposes strict ID requirements to register to vote. The original complaint, which was filed back in March, solely challenged House Bill 124 — an anti-voting law that eliminates the use of a student ID as an acceptable form of identification for in-person voting — for violating the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits denying voting rights “on account of age.” 

In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs continue to challenge the constitutionality of H.B. 124, while also adding new claims against H.B. 340, which was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little (R) on April 4. This law imposes strict photo ID and proof of residency requirements to register to vote and limits the forms of acceptable identification for registration. 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 following forms of identification to register to vote: a current Idaho driver’s license or ID card, a current passport or other ID issued by the federal government, a current tribal identification card or a current Idaho concealed carry permit. Similar to H.B. 124, H.B. 340 precludes student IDs from the acceptable forms of identification, thereby targeting youth voter registration efforts. In total, H.B. 340 and H.B. 124 add strict ID requirements to the full voting process, from registering to vote to casting ballots, which will have an outsized impact on young voters in violation of the 26th Amendment. 

Additionally, the plaintiffs argue that H.B. 340’s new voter registration requirements, which “require[] new registrants to show one of four forms of photo identification to register, each of which generally may be obtained only after payment of a government fee,” impose an “unconstitutional poll tax in violation of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.”

The complaint notes that although H.B. 340 provides for free voter identification cards to certain Idahoans who are already 18 years old or older or those who have not had a valid driver’s license in the preceding six months, the law does not account for certain eligible voters including those who will turn 18 right before Election Day or voters — such as elderly voters — who previously had a driver’s license but would not otherwise renew it. This free voter identification option also does not apply to “voters who move to Idaho shortly before election day and have not yet converted their still-valid out-of-state license, which requires passing a written test,” according to the complaint.

Finally, the plaintiffs contend that H.B. 340 intentionally discriminates against new voters as compared to voters who are already registered. Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that existing registered voters can still vote without a photo ID by casting an affidavit ballot that attests to their identity and residency, however new voters cannot take advantage of this fallback option since they cannot even register to vote without possessing a photo ID. In turn, the plaintiffs assert that H.B. 340’s disfavoring of new voters violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

The plaintiffs ask the court to permanently block the enforcement of both H.B. 340 and H.B. 124 and to require the defendants to reinstate student IDs as a valid form of acceptable voter identification to register to vote and to vote in-person in Idaho. 

Read the amended complaint here. 

Learn more about the case here.