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Advocacy groups file lawsuit against Idaho law banning student IDs at the polls

A young woman stands behind a podium set up in the first floor rotunda of Boise's Capitol. Four young adults stand behind her holding signs that read BABE VOTE in large bold letters. They are all wearing black and white clothing to match the signs.
Julie Luchetta
Boise State Public Radio
Saumya Sarin delivered a speech at the Capitol denouncing House bill 124 signed into law by Gov. Brad Little.

The advocacy group Babe Vote announced it was suing the state of Idaho for House Bill 124. The bill removes student IDs as an acceptable form of identification at the polls and was signed into law by Gov. Brad Little last week.

Speaking on behalf of the nonprofit at the Capitol on Friday, College of Idaho student Saumya Sarin said Idaho should focus on increasing voter turnout, not making it harder for eligible voters to cast ballots.

“Enacting this law will increase apathy among students who already find that their voices are not adequately heard,” Sarin said.

Secretary of State Phil McGrane said in a committee hearing last month there was no rampant voter fraud in Idaho, including from students, but argued the law was necessary to make sure it remained that way. Sarin says the ban on student IDs isn’t needed.

“This legislation sends a dangerous message to young voters. We should be doing everything we can to get more young people voting, not creating burdens for them,” she said.

The League of Women Voters of Idaho is a co-plaintiff in the lawsuit. According to Secretary McGrane, out of the roughly 600 000 Idahoans who voted in the 2022 elections, 98.8% used a driver's license, and only 104 people used student IDs to cast a ballot.

Lawyers for the March for Our Lives, an organization that advocates for gun control, filed a separate lawsuit against the state also denouncing the bill. In a statement, Simon Richardson, a Boise High student and co-Director of the group’s Idaho chapter, said the bill disproportionately affects low-income students who may not be able to afford the other types of acceptable IDs.

State law currentlyallows state-issued and tribal IDs, passports, or concealed weapon licenses as proof of identity at the polls.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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