Bill Description: Senate Bill 1375 makes several changes to Section 34 of Idaho Code about verifying voters, their residence and their citizenship, all in the interest of election integrity.
Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency, accountability, or election integrity?
Senate Bill 1375 has four key provisions. The first requires electors to be citizens of the United States and clarifies what qualifies as valid documents for proof of citizenship, residency, and identity. Under this bill, any attempt to document citizenship, residency and identity must present a photo ID. A person attempting to register to vote through a mail-in or online form must include a photocopy of their driver’s license and any applicable documents to verify a residential address. Additionally, those who use a mail-in or online form to register may only vote in person during the next election. This allows poll workers to verify identifying documentation in-person before a vote is cast. These provisions ensure that electors are who they claim to be and reside in the district holding the election they want to vote in. This improves election integrity by preventing manipulation of the vote at the booth.
The second provision removes student ID cards from the list of documents a person may use to document citizenship and residency in the state. This eliminates a loophole for out-of-staters to register to vote in Idaho by virtue of residing in the Gem State as students, while maintaining a permanent resident elsewhere.
The third provision of interest is that SB 1375 repeals language in Section 34-1002 of Idaho Code that allows an unaffiliated voter to choose to receive a partisan ballot when requesting an absentee ballot. Removing this provision would mean that unaffiliated voters would only receive nonpartisan absentee ballots. This change would make it more difficult for members of a political party to register as a member of a rival party, with a goal of influencing that party’s primary election results. This step will improve the integrity of the primary election system here in Idaho.
Finally, SB 1375 sunsets the provision in Section 34-1106 of Idaho Code that allows electors to sign a personal identification affidavit as a substitute for a photo identification card. Repealing this section of Idaho Code requires electors to present photo identification and ensures that poll workers can confirm their true identity at the time the vote is cast. This provision will remain in effect until the conclusion of the fiscal year on July 1, 2023.
Overall, this bill improves election integrity and upholds the one person – one vote principle.
Does it create, expand, or enlarge any agency, board, program, function, or activity of government?
This bill creates a new government program through the Idaho Transportation Department to provide free government-issued identification for those enduring financial hardship. The goal of this policy is to remove the financial barriers to voting when an ID is required. This is expected to cost $16,000, but is likely to cost more as this program becomes an ongoing expenditure. It should be noted that those who would qualify for free identification cards would otherwise be qualified to vote.
This measure creates a new entitlement program at the cost of taxpayers, expanding the government.