BOISE, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press.
On March 15, Gov. Brad Little signed the bill that removes student IDs as an acceptable form of voter ID. On March 16, Babe Vote, an organization that focuses on increasing youth involvement in governance, along with The League of Women Voters in Idaho as a co-plaintiff, filed a lawsuit challenging the the legislation.
At a press conference on the first floor of the Idaho State Capitol rotunda on Friday, Babe Vote volunteer and College of Idaho student Saumya Sarin, flanked by a handful of other Babe Vote volunteers, spoke about the lawsuit.
“It’s better for our constitutional republic when more eligible voters register and vote,” Sarin said to a group of reporters. “Idaho should be focused on increasing turnout, especially among groups that have traditionally voted in lower numbers, like young people. … It is unacceptable if one eligible voter is prevented from exercising his or her constitutional right to vote.”
Sarin said that due in part to Babe Vote’s youth-focused voter registration efforts, “Idaho has seen by far the highest growth in registration for voters 18 and 19 years old in the nation, with a 66% increase since 2018.” Sarin said that the legislation will make the organization’s voter registration work “more difficult as we seek to correct misinformation about this law. Students who already face burdens when attempting to cast their ballots will now be forced to deal with this additional voting obstacle. Enacting this law will increase apathy among students who already find that their voices are not adequately heard.”
Sarin ended the press conference with a call to action, saying that all elections, especially local ones, matter.
“Let’s focus on making it possible for each and every eligible voter to exercise his or her right to vote,” Sarin said.
Perkins Coie is the firm representing the plaintiffs. Lead attorney on the case is Matthew Gordon. Gordon said (HB 124) “is an attempt to restrict student voting,” and it “appears to be part of a larger national attempt to restrict voting. We see this a national coordinated attack on voting rights with no discernible basis except to make it harder for people to vote. As I understand it, the (Idaho) Secretary of State admitted there were no cases of students using fraudulent ID.” Gordon said there seemed to be no reason for the legislation “except they don’t want young people voting at high rates. We think this is a broader attack on restricting voting rights nationally.”
The complaint also addresses how the legislation impacts the work of The League of Women Voters, which has “served the voters of Idaho” for more than 75 years. “The League seeks to increase voter participation and make elections more free, fair, and accessible for all Idahoans, regardless of race, age, and disability status,” the complaint states. “HB 124 impedes the League’s mission. By making it harder for young people to vote, HB 124 impedes the League’s mission of increasing voter turnout and making elections more free, fair, and accessible to Idahoans regardless of age.”
The complaint also refers to a similar attempt to restrict youth voting in Montana in 2022, “a law struck down as unconstitutional under the Montana Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.”
The complaint points to a national trend. “Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have used the false specter of voter fraud to make it harder for young people to vote.”
This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com.
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