Dems challenge Idaho voter ID law

Only 104 people used a student ID to vote in the 2022 midterm elections.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little delivers his 2023 State of the State address held at the Idaho State Capitol, Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, in Boise, Idaho. (AP Photo/Kyle Green)

A top Democratic election law firm has filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new Idaho law that bans students from using their school identification card to prove their identity when they show up to vote.

The Elias Law Group said Friday it had filed suit against Secretary of State Phil McGrane (R) on behalf of March For Our Lives Idaho and Rosaura Albizo Barron, a senior at Boise High School who will become eligible to vote in August. The suit challenges House Bill 124, which limits the forms of identification a voter may use at the polling place.

Gov. Brad Little (R) signed the legislation earlier this week.

Idaho has allowed students to use their school identification cards to vote since the legislature approved a photo identification requirement 13 years ago. In a press release announcing the lawsuit, Barron said the bill would threaten a student’s right to vote.

“Many students such as myself rely on our student IDs for transportation, accessibility and identification,” Barron said. “This bill not only threatens our constitutional right to vote, but the only legitimacy we have.”

The new law requires voters to show a state-issued driver’s license or identification card; a passport; a tribal identification card; or a license to carry a concealed weapon issued by the state.

The bill passed along party lines in the House and Senate, where Republicans control a supermajority in one of the most conservative states in the nation.

Republicans have advanced voter identification laws in states across the nation, claiming they help limit the possibility of voter fraud. Thirty-six states have voter identification laws on the books, though the types of identification a voter must show and the steps a voter without an identification can take to cast a ballot vary widely.

Idaho state Rep. Tina Lambert (R), the new law’s chief sponsor, said ending the use of student identifications would eliminate fraud, though there has been no evidence and no allegations of alleged fraud.

“The problem with student ID cards is that they are not secure,” Lambert said of her bill, according to the Idaho Capital Sun. “Proof of identity is not required in order to get one. Some are going to say that this bill will prevent young people from voting. That is certainly not the goal. The goal is simply to ensure that only qualified people are voting in Idaho elections.”

Even if the new law stands, it is unlikely to have a widespread impact. Only 104 people used student identification cards to vote in Idaho in the 2022 midterm elections, according to a note Lambert and Sen. Scott Herndon (R) filed with the legislature.

A spokesperson for Attorney General Raul Labrador (R), whose office would defend the legislation in court, did not immediately return an email seeking comment.