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Disability Action Center NW

Voting for people with disabilities – Idaho

While people with disabilities have fought and won battles to ensure equal access to elections and voting, the fight to protect what we’ve won and move toward full equality continues. In Idaho, several laws were passed in the last legislative session that significantly impact, and in some cases, stop people with disabilities from voting. We must push back on these restrictions and ensure EVERYONE can exercise their Constitutional right to vote. If you are experiencing barriers to voting, please reach out to your Center for Independent Living. No one should experience what Terry is experiences, detailed in the op-ed below.

For the first time in its 75-year history, the League of Women Voters of Idaho is suing the State of Idaho. After the legislature passed HB 124 and HB 340, we were honor bound to seek judicial protection of voting rights. For decades, Idaho has struck a reasonable, measured balance between election security and voter access. Over the years, the system has been refined by the legislature through small changes that improved election integrity while preserving access.

The 2023 session saw the passage of HB124 and HB340, affecting voting ID and voter registration respectively. For the first time since IDs were required, bills were passed to restrict access to the ballot box. Student IDs were eliminated as valid ID for voting, and eligible Idahoans now must have a current state or federal issued ID, current tribal ID or current concealed weapons permit for registering to vote and must also prove residency from a narrower list of acceptable documents.

For people who are able-bodied and have cars, flexible working hours, and a certified birth certificate, getting a current state ID might not be too challenging. But for people like Terry who live in a care facility, obtaining a current ID to register to vote is impossible. While Terry has voted in Idaho before, once he moved to a care facility, he needed to re-register. His ID is more than two years expired because he can’t drive anymore, and many of his personal documents were lost in the move. Even if he had all the required documentation for a new ID, physically getting to a DMV office is medically and physically impossible. Additionally, Idaho has no provision for issuing off-site identification. Under the new voter registration regime adopted with HB340, Terry and other Idahoans, simply because they are unable to leave home, are disenfranchised.

Prior to the passage of HB 340, volunteers from the League would have gone to Terry’s care facility, helped him complete the voter registration form and absentee ballot request and delivered the forms to the county clerk’s office. The office would have verified the last 4 digits of his SSN along with his name and birth date. Terry would have then been registered and able to exercise his constitutional right to vote. But now, after HB 340, that’s no longer the case.

HB 340 is disenfranchising vulnerable Idahoans, and we sued the State to restore their access to the ballot.

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