Members of the Idaho Senate advanced legislation eliminating the use of student ID as a form of voter identification.
Sen. Scott Herndon, a co-sponsor of the bill, said only 104 people out of almost 600,000 used student IDs to vote in the November 2022 general election during a debate on the Senate floor.
While student IDs can be used as a form of voter identification, it is different from other methods that can be used such as driver’s licenses, concealed carry permits or passports. While other forms of voter identification are issued by the state or federal government, student IDs typically are not and are instead issued by individual public and private universities.
Doug Ricks, a representative from Madison County, said students would still be able to vote in Idaho elections with a driver’s license or an affidavit, a statement signed by a voter affirming their identity.
“The fact that we’re tightening up and eliminating the student IDs is really not a process I think that would prevent a student from voting who was eligible,” Ricks said.
Critics of the bill such as Sen. Melissa Wintrow worried the bill would discourage voter turnout among students.
“I want to communicate to our students that they are valued and that they should be engaged in the government process,” Wintrow said in her floor debate. “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.”
Ricks said the bill doesn’t communicate such a message. He would encourage students to vote, but to do so with Idaho state identification.
The bill heads to Governor Brad Little now that it has passed both the House and Senate.
House protects voting by absentee ballot
The Idaho House of Representatives killed a bill that would have prohibited no-excuse absentee ballots earlier this week.
Rep. Joe Alfieri, one of the sponsors of the bill, wanted to protect Idaho against allegations of widespread voter fraud.
“Our goal here is to preserve our republic,” Alfieri said in his debate. “And the way our republic functions is through the voting process. It should not be a convenience. Our republic, our country, our state is much more important than that.”
Absentee voting has grown in popularity throughout the country and in the state. According to the Secretary of State’s website, 21.6% of votes cast in the November 2022 election were cast using absentee ballots.
The bill drew pushback from Republicans and Democrats. Rep. Britt Raybould from Madison County pointed out the lack of examples of voter fraud in Idaho.
“I heard a lot of concern about what might happen, what could happen, what’s happened in other places,” Raybould said in her floor debate against the bill. “What I didn’t hear is what’s happened in Idaho. And to the best of my knowledge, no examples have been shared that indicate that there is an issue with how Idaho conducts its elections.”
Since the House voted against the bill, it won’t be voted on in the Senate.
State dinosaur has east Idaho roots
The Idaho Senate passed legislation that would make Idaho the 18th state to have a state dinosaur.
Fossils of Oryctodromeus have been found in the Wayan Formation in the Caribou Mountains located in Eastern Idaho, a fact that earns the dinosaur its title as Idaho’s state dinosaur.
According to the bill’s text, the Oryctodromeus, which means “digging runner,” was a small, swift herbivore that lived during the Cretaceous Period that grew to be about seven feet long and weighed approximately seventy pounds.
The bill now advances to the House of Representatives to be voted on.