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No Challenge to Idaho Voter ID Law

But ACLU of Idaho is keeping a close eye on polling procedures

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Poll watchers are taking a key interest in a series of federal court rulings--the latest from Texas--striking down voter identification requirements.

"Voter ID laws definitely can lead to the disenfranchisement of certain communities. It's generally the elderly, disabled, youth and minority populations, communities of color that are disproportionately affected," said Leo Morales, communications coordinator with American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho.

A three-judge federal panel ruled Aug. 30 that Texas officials' assumption that their new voter ID requirement would not be discriminatory were "unpersuasive, invalid or both," according to Justice David S. Tatel, of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

A 2011 study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law said Idaho's voter ID law--passed by the Idaho Legislature in 2010--and laws like it would make it harder for nearly 5 million people to vote in the 2012 presidential election. However Idaho's law, unlike Texas, includes a provision allowing voters to sign a personal identification affidavit in lieu of presenting an ID.

"Even though we have that option, our concern is a lack of education across [Idaho] in regard to the affidavit option," said Morales. "Some community members and poll workers may not be trained on this properly and may still believe that photo ID is the only option."

Morales said that educating Idaho's Hispanic population about the affidavit option has been challenging.

"For Idaho, of course, our largest minority population is the Latino population," he said. "So, we're coordinating those efforts in Spanish and English."

The Texas model offered no alternative to presenting an ID card. Other states have gone as far as requiring birth certificates to prove citizenship.

Meanwhile, ACLU of Idaho is not considering challenging Idaho's voter ID law. Morales said educating poll workers and the public about the affidavit option remains its priority.

ACLU Idaho will monitor the law's effects through the November elections.

"If indeed [citizens] are denied because they didn't have a photo ID, that is definitely grounds for a legal challenge," said Morales. "We definitely are active, and we want to hear stories from Idahoans who have been refused or have had obstacles put before them."

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