House Bill 344 — Elections, voter identification

House Bill 344 — Elections, voter identification

by
Parrish Miller
March 19, 2021
Parrish Miller
March 19, 2021

Bill Description: House Bill 344 clarifies what counts as ID for voter registration and calls for the Secretary of State to conduct random audits in counties where voters sign affidavits in lieu of showing ID. 

Rating: +1

Analyst Note: There have been several bills introduced during the 2021 Legislative Session to improve election security and combat voter fraud. Unlike others, House Bill 344 still allows for the use of some student ID cards to vote and still allows voters to sign affidavits in lieu of showing ID. 

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

House Bill 344 amends Section 34-408A, Idaho Code, to clarify what forms of ID are accepted when registering to vote. In addition to a current Idaho driver's license or Idaho identification card, the state will also accept "a current tribal identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe" or a combination of one "photo identification document" and one "address verification document."

Acceptable photo identification documents under this bill are:

  1. "A current driver's license or state identification card, issued by any state, that displays a prior address of the individual;"
  2. "A current United States passport;"
  3. "A current active United States military identification card;"
  4. A current tribal identification card issued by a federally recognized Indian tribe, as defined in section 67-4001, Idaho Code, that displays the individual's date of birth;"
  5. "A current student identification card issued by a post-secondary education institution in the state of Idaho that displays the individual's date of birth;" or
  6. A current Idaho license to carry concealed weapons that displays the holder's date of birth and physical address located in Idaho.

The bill says, "Acceptable address verification documents must display the current address and a date that is at least thirty (30) days prior to the date of the election." Acceptable address verification documents are:

  1. "A utility bill, not including a cell phone bill, that is no more than six (6) months old;"
  2. "A current residential lease agreement, rental agreement, mortgage, or deed of trust;"
  3. "A W-2 or 1099 federal tax form for the most recent available tax year;"
  4. "A current semester tuition statement from a higher education institution in Idaho;"
  5. "A military leave and earnings statement showing the Idaho residency of an individual on active military duty deployed outside the state of Idaho;" or
  6. "A government record showing the individual as having paid property taxes at the address within the last year."

While these forms of ID may strengthen Idaho's election security to some degree, they also leave room for misuse and fraud. For example, someone with any form of photo ID who owns rental property in Idaho but does not live here could produce the necessary documentation required under this provision even though he would not qualify as a legal elector or resident of the state.

House Bill 344 amends Section 34-1113, Idaho Code, to clarify that a high school ID is not sufficient identification to establish one's identity at a polling place.

Section 34-1114, Idaho Code, allows a voter to complete an affidavit in lieu of showing ID at a polling place. House Bill 344 amends this section to say, "The secretary of state shall conduct a random audit of such affidavits, including at least one (1) affidavit from each county in which at least one (1) affidavit was signed, to determine the validity of the voter's identity. The secretary of state shall refer any evidence of voter fraud to the county prosecuting attorney or attorney general for prosecution. Any signatory to an audited affidavit who refuses to provide documentation requested by the secretary of state to prove the validity of the affidavit shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

While auditing a single affidavit from a county represents a minuscule sample size, a diligent secretary of state has the authority under this section to conduct a far more thorough audit. 

Finally, starting Jan. 1, 2024, House Bill 344 will require a voter who does not present ID at a polling place to have his photograph taken "at the polls by an election judge or clerk" and to have the photograph affixed to the signed affidavit. Combined with the audit provisions of this section, this change may serve to reduce instances of voter fraud.

While the changes made by House Bill 344 fall short of implementing an ironclad voter ID law, they do make some headway in improving election security and combating voter fraud in Idaho.

(+1)

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