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Supreme Court rules laws not allowing student IDs at the polls are constitutional

Close-up of a big white banner with the words BABE VOTE in black
Julie Luchetta
Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho Supreme Court is upholding a law that says student IDs can’t be used to vote. The court unanimously ruled against plaintiffs who challenged two state voting ID laws passed in 2023, which eliminate student ID cards as an acceptable form of identification at the polls and place restrictions on proof of residency.

Last March, voting advocacy groups Babe Vote and the League of Women Voters sued Secretary of State Phil McGrane over Idaho’s new voting ID requirements, saying they were unconstitutionally burdensome to a certain class of voters. The groups argued the two laws, HB 340 and HB 124, discriminated against young people who did not have easy access to other types of identifications and said it violated their equal protection rights.

After a district judge found them to be constitutional, Babe Vote and the League appealed, sending the case to the state’s High Court.

In their decision released Thursday, the Supreme Court justices wrote Idaho’s restrictions on IDs fall under “the government’s legitimate interest in preserving the integrity of its election process,” adding the legislature has the power to set reasonable conditions to the right to vote. The opinion also stated students were not a protected class and could use other types of accepted identifications at the polls.

In a press release, Secretary McGrane said his office was pleased by the court’s decision and encouraged people to visit VoteIdaho.gov to register to vote.

In a statement posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Babe Vote and the League said the ruling validated voter suppression and undermined democracy in Idaho.

“Our volunteers will do everything in our power to register as many voters as we can under the very difficult and sometimes impossible conditions Idaho's voter suppression laws have created,” the post said.

Under state law, voters can use 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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