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Youth-led Idaho group goes to court to stop new voter registration law

Darylann Elmi
Adobe Stock

Critics of a new voter registration law in Idaho are attempting to stop it in court. House Bill 340 requires proof of residency and went into effect on July 1. Supporters say it is meant to create a more consistent voter registration process across the state. But the youth-run group called Babe Vote says it will make registration harder for students and marginalized groups.

Sam Sandmire, volunteer coordinator of Babe Vote, explained the group has suspended its registration efforts because of the new law.

"Our voter registration drives take place at festivals and community events and farmers markets and things like that where people typically are not carrying around proof of residency," he said.

Babe Vote has filed a motion seeking an injunction to stop the law. A hearing on the injunction was delayed from this week to August 4, Sandmire said. The organization also filed a lawsuit in March against House Bill 124, which prohibits using a student I.D. as valid identification when registering to vote.

Sandmire added standardizing voter registration is a worthy goal, but notes there are many different needs across Idaho.

"Every community has different challenges," he explained. "There are some areas, some precincts in Idaho where they only have mail-in voting because they're so rural."

Sandmire said barriers are harmful to efforts to give everyone a vote at the ballot box.

"Babe Vote volunteers feel like people should be encouraged to register and vote," he continued. "That's the patriotic thing to do."