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Lawsuit challenging Idaho’s initiative process dismissed

Posted at 1:05 PM, Oct 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-30 15:05:20-04

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A federal lawsuit challenging Idaho’s ballot initiative process as unconstitutional because it requires signatures from multiple legislative districts has been dismissed.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge David C. Nye ruled Tuesday that Ryan Isbelle lacked standing to bring the lawsuit but didn’t rule on the merits of the case.

Nye said Isbelle lacked standing because he hadn’t tried to get an initiative on the ballot.

Nye didn’t rule on Isbelle’s claim that Idaho’s initiative rules violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause.

Isbelle argued that an Idaho law passed in 2013 requiring signatures from 6% of registered voters in 18 legislative districts was unconstitutional. A bill that would have made that process considerably more difficult sparked heated debate at the statehouse in the legislative session earlier this year. The bill would have required Idahoans to obtain signatures from 10 percent of the voter population in 32 districts, and to do it all within 180 days.

Related: That bill in the Idaho Legislature? It would’ve killed Medicaid expansion. By a lot.

Before 2013, ballot initiatives required signatures from 6% of statewide registered voters.

Related: Idaho governor vetoes bill making ballot initiatives tougher

Isbelle argued the change unconstitutionally gave more weight to signatures in some districts.