Voting Rights Groups Sue Idaho Over New Youth Voter Suppression Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, March 16, BABE VOTE — a youth voter engagement organization — and the League of Women Voters of Idaho filed a lawsuit in state court against Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) challenging House Bill 124, a newly enacted voter suppression law that eliminates the use of a student ID as an acceptable form of identification for in-person voting. This lawsuit comes in the wake of Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) signing H.B. 124 into law on Wednesday, March 15. Prior to the enactment of H.B. 124, acceptable identification included an Idaho driver’s license or identification card issued by the Idaho Transportation Department, passport or other U.S. government issued photo ID, tribal identification card with a photo, a license to carry concealed weapons or a current student identification card with a photo issued by a high school or an accredited higher education institution. H.B. 124 removes student IDs from the acceptable list of identification. Notably, the passage of H.B. 124 comes as Republican state legislatures across the country are proposing and enacting new legislation that targets youth voters in response to 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 their complaint, the plaintiffs allege that H.B. 124 was enacted in order to make voting “more difficult for young voters and specifically for Idaho students whose school IDs are no longer sufficient for voting.” Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that H.B. 124’s “prohibition on the use of student ID cards — a form of ID which had been accepted for years without resulting in a single known instance of fraud — will disproportionately and disparately abridge the right to vote of young Idaho voters by making it more difficult for them to participate in our democracy.” Finally, the plaintiffs note that H.B. 124 was enacted in the context of record high voter turnout amongst Idaho youth voters, “but rather than celebrate this surge in voter participation, Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have used the false specter of voter fraud to make it harder for young people to vote.” In turn, the plaintiffs contend that H.B. 124 violates the right to equal protection and the right to vote under the Idaho Constitution. The plaintiffs ask the court to permanently block the enforcement of H.B. 124 and to require the defendant to reinstate student IDs as an acceptable form of voter identification in Idaho.
Last week, March for Our Lives Idaho filed a parallel lawsuit in federal court challenging H.B. 124 and arguing that the law violates the 26th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits denying voting rights “on account of age.”