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Idaho Senate votes to eliminate use of student IDs for voting

by CLARK CORBIN / Idaho Capital Sun
| March 13, 2023 1:05 AM

The Republican-controlled Idaho Senate voted Thursday night to eliminate student IDs as an acceptable form of identification to vote in Idaho elections.

If passed into law, House Bill 124 would remove a student ID issued by an Idaho high school, college, university or technical school from the list of forms of identification that are accepted at the polls.

If the bill passes, the only acceptable forms of identification accepted at Idaho polling places would be:

  • An Idaho driver’s license or an identification card issued by the Idaho Transportation Department.
  • A U.S. passport or a photo ID card issued by an agency of the U.S. government,
  • A tribal photo identification card.
  • A license to carry concealed weapons, or an enhanced license to carry concealed weapons.

Sen. Scott Herndon, R-Sagle, sponsored the bill to remove student IDs on the Senate floor Thursday. Herndon said only 104 people used student IDs to vote in the November 2022 general election. State records show that more than 599,000 people voted in that election.

Herndon described the bill as an election integrity bill, saying the standard for obtaining a student ID is lower than the other forms of identification and many student IDs are different and don’t always include the same information, such as a student’s address.

“The problem with them is there is no uniformity,” Herndon said in his floor debate.

“The reason that we, again, want to get rid of the student ID is because we can not have as much assurance through that method of identification that the voter standing at the poll to vote is who they say they are,” Herndon added.

Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, led the debate against the bill.

“I want to communicate to our students that they are valued and that they should be engaged in the government process. And I do not want to send any kind of message of value that we don’t want them at the polls, and I think that does communicate a message,” Wintrow said in her floor debate.

In the end, the Idaho Senate voted 28-7 to pass the bill.

What happens next for the student ID bill?

Because the Idaho House of Representatives has already voted to pass the bill, House Bill 124 heads to Gov. Brad Little’s desk for final consideration. Little may sign the bill into law, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it.

The bill removing student IDs is one of several bills introduced during the 2023 legislative session that change voting procedures or consolidate elections. Other bills include:

  • House Bill 205 would eliminate the use of absentee ballots for convenience and restrict the use of absentee ballots only to voters who are serving in the military, serving a religious mission out of the country, occupying a second home, having to work or attend university or who are sick, disabled or hospitalized.
  • House Bill 137 would eliminate the option for voters to sign an affidavit form to verify their identity if they don’t have ID with them.
  • Senate Joint Resolution 101 is a proposed amendment to the Idaho Constitution that would increase the threshold to qualify a ballot initiative or referendum for an election.
  • House Bill 58 would get rid of the March and August election dates that local school districts use for bond and levy elections and push those nonpartisan elections to either the March primary election or November general election.
  • House Bill 138 would move Idaho’s presidential primary election back from March until May.

This story was originally published by the Idaho Capital Sun on March 9, 2023.