Idaho Supreme Court Upholds Voter ID Laws Amid Lawsuit by Babe Vote and League of Women Voters

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled against two voter advocacy groups, Babe Vote and the League of Women Voters, in their legal challenge of certain voter identification laws in the state. The groups had filed a lawsuit against Idaho Secretary of State Phil McGrane regarding laws passed in 2023 that imposed restrictions on the use of student IDs for voter registration and as proof of identification at the polls, as well as additional requirements for proving residency to register to vote. They argued that these laws disproportionately affected certain groups of people and violated their right to vote.

An Ada County District Court judge had initially dismissed the case, stating that the new laws were not unduly burdensome. However, the groups appealed, and the state Supreme Court recently affirmed the district court’s decision unanimously. Justice Robyn Brody, writing in an opinion released on Thursday, stated that voter identification procedures fell within the legislature’s constitutional power to enact “qualifications” and “conditions” on the right to vote.

One of the laws challenged by the groups, HB 124, removed student IDs as a valid form of voter identification at the polls. However, the court pointed out that the law still allowed individuals to vote using a signed affidavit in lieu of photo identification, therefore not substantially restricting access to the polls. The second law, HB 340, created a list of acceptable forms of Idaho residency and required the Idaho Transportation Department to provide a free voter ID to those who did not possess a valid driver’s license within six months. The plaintiffs argued that this law excluded college students from out of state or recent Idaho residents.

The court acknowledged that the law would impose a burden on some individuals but concluded that it did not rise to the level of denying the right to vote. Justice Brody cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision that recognized that every voting rule imposes some sort of burden. The court stated that the Idaho Legislature was acting within its authority to protect the integrity and security of elections.

Secretary of State Phil McGrane expressed his satisfaction with the court’s ruling and emphasized the importance of voting and the security of elections. He encouraged Idahoans to register and actively participate in the upcoming primary and general elections. Babe Vote and the League of Women Voters, on the other hand, stated that they believed the laws continued to harm certain voters and that the court’s decision validated voter suppression and undermined democracy in Idaho.

The groups vowed to redouble their efforts to register voters, particularly young people and those in elder care, under the challenging conditions created by Idaho’s voter suppression laws. They expressed their determination to build a democracy in Idaho that works for everyone.

The Idaho Supreme Court’s ruling has settled the legal challenge against Idaho’s voter identification laws, affirming the state’s authority to establish qualifications and conditions for voting. The court’s decision sets the precedent for future cases involving voter access and rights in Idaho.