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Reclaim Idaho files lawsuit to strike down anti-initiatives law

Reclaim Idaho says this latest measure would make it nearly impossible get initiatives on the ballot.

BOISE, Idaho — Gov. Brad Little signed legislation last month making it more difficult to get initiatives or referendums on ballots in Idaho.

Little vetoed similar legislation in 2019 out of concern a federal court could find it unconstitutional and dictate the state’s ballot initiative process.

Reclaim Idaho says this latest measure would make it nearly impossible get initiatives on the ballot and have filed suit in the Idaho Supreme Court to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

"Last month, the Idaho Legislature and Governor Brad Little snatched away one of our most fundamental rights—a right enshrined in our Constitution over 100 years ago," said Reclaim Idaho co-founder Luke Mayville. "We're filing this lawsuit on behalf of the people of Idaho, and we believe we will prevail."

Backers of the bill say it is needed because the current process favors urban voters. The new law requires the signatures of 6% of registered voters in all 35 Idaho districts. That's up from 18 districts previously required.

The Committee to Protect and Preserve the Idaho Constitution - a committee of distinguished Idaho lawyers - is serving as a plaintiff in the case alongside Reclaim Idaho.

Reclaim Idaho says the new anti-initiatives law violates the fundamental right of Idaho citizens to propose or reject legislation. The anti-initiatives law gives Idaho the most restrictive signature requirements in the nation, making it virtually impossible for grassroots organizations to qualify initiatives and referendums for the ballot. 

Of the 24 states with ballot measures, no other state requires a large number of signatures from all state-legislative districts.

The lawsuit, Reclaim Idaho v. Lawerence Denney, includes written testimony from a list of experts including:

• Ben Ysursa, former Idaho Secretary of State who served for three terms
• Luke Mayville, Co-Founder of Reclaim Idaho
• Gary Moncrief, Boise State University Distinguished Professor of Political Science
• Karen Lansing, former judge on the Idaho Court of Appeals
• David Daley, nationally known elections expert and best-selling author
• Robin Nettinga, former Executive Director of the Idaho Education Association
• Linda Larson, Bonner County volunteer leader of Reclaim Idaho
• Jessica Mahuron, Kootenai County volunteer leader of the Medicaid Expansion signature drive

Reclaim Idaho is also prepared to launch a signature drive to qualify the Initiative Rights Act for the ballot. The Initiative Rights Act would restore the signature requirements that existed in 2012: 6% of registered voters statewide, without regard to where those voters live. 

Reclaim Idaho is the organization that spearheaded the Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative. The measure passed with 61% of the statewide vote. It provides healthcare access to over 100,000 Idahoans. 

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