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Regional News

Idaho Senate Ratchets Up Signature Requirements For Initiatives

State of Idaho

The Idaho Senate today [Friday] narrowly approved a bill that would require initiative sponsors to gather more signatures in a shorter amount of time to qualify their measures for the ballot.

The current law in Idaho requires initiative sponsors to collect signatures from at least 6% of the registered voters in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts. Senator Scott Grow’s bill would push that signature requirement to at least 10% of the voters in 32 districts.

Supporters say the goal is to require ballot measures to be more reflective of the state as a whole. They say sponsors can rely mostly on urban voters, who might tend to be more progressive, to get measures on the ballot.

Grow’s bill was approved by a 18-17 vote, drawing just enough support from Republicans. It now moves on to the state House.

Rebecca Schroeder, the executive director of Reclaim Idaho, which was the main group behind Proposition 2, calls it a full-on assault on democracy.

“We are saying that it is obliterating our constitutional right by enacting unsurmountable hurdles," Schroeder said. "Citizens will no longer be able to organize a grassroots effort to ever get anything on the ballot again, opening the door only for big money special interests.”

Schroeder says House Republicans have already signaled their support for the bill. She’s calling on Governor Little to veto it if and when it reaches his desk.

Schroeder says Reclaim Idaho has been in contact with the ACLU and other advocacy groups to consider a legal challenge to the bill, if it becomes law.