Saturday, December 09, 2023

Bill to prohibit student IDs clears committee

by LOGAN FINNEY / Idaho Reports
| February 17, 2023 1:00 AM

The House State Affairs Committee approved two election-related bills on Thursday, including one to prohibit the use of high school or university student ID cards for voter identification at the polls.

Rep. Tina Lambert, R-Caldwell, said that student ID cards lack the security measures and verification that are required to obtain other methods of identification.

“Voting is a serious business with serious consequences,” Lambert said. “No one can use a student ID to get on an airplane or buy alcohol.”

Lambert last week pulled back a version of the bill that would have also eliminated the option to use signed affidavits in lieu of identification. The committee recommended the new bill be placed on the House second reading calendar, but House Speaker Mike Moyle, R-Star, routed it back to the committee to allow for more public testimony.

“As a poll worker for the last five years, we always make a big deal when a first-time voter has voted, and they are most often high school voters and college students,” said Boise resident Mary Ruckh.

Rep. John Gannon, D-Boise, said that lawmakers should not do anything to discourage young people from voting.

“We need to look at the act of voting from the voter’s perspective and do everything we can to encourage young people to get involved in our system,” Gannon said.

Current state law also allows for use of driver’s licenses, state ID cards, passports, tribal identification cards, and concealed weapons licenses for identification at the polls. A standalone bill to eliminate affidavits has been introduced by Rep. Joe Alfieri, R-Coeur d’Alene.

The second piece of legislation before the committee was a concurrent resolution from Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, expressing Idaho’s support for the Electoral College.

“It’s the current process we use to pick the president and vice president,” Scott said. “It ensures checks and balances and makes sure the voices of smaller states are heard.”

Scott said the stance is needed in the face of efforts to get around the current presidential election process like the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would pledge states’ electoral votes based on national rather than state vote totals.

“We’d basically turn over our electoral votes to a compact. It would force our state to ignore who Idaho chooses,” Scott said.

Isabella Schiffler of Jerome spoke in favor of the resolution, saying the decentralized structure of the Electoral College was an intentional choice by the country’s founding fathers.

“The main thing they wanted to protect our country from was the national popular vote,” Schiffler said. “It is our duty to keep our republic form of government.”

She also pointed out that most of the states that have signed onto the compact are currently governed by the Democratic Party.

Both bills passed the committee and were sent to the House floor for a vote. They must also earn approval from the Senate and the governor to become law.

The committee was scheduled to consider a rewrite of the state’s unclaimed property law. Chairman Rep. Brent Crane, R-Nampa, postponed that discussion to give lawmakers more time to look over the 47-page proposal. The Treasurer’s Office declined to comment until the bill is introduced.

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