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Election Day Monitoring

DisAbility Rights Idaho Needs Your Help!

Election Day Monitoring
Each election season, DisAbility Rights Idaho monitors polling places
throughout the state to ensure that they are accessible to all Idahoans.
However, the geographical diversity of our state makes it difficult to
monitor every polling location.

How you can Help
We have created a digital survey that lets you assess your polling place for accessibility issues when you go to vote!

Click this link:

Polling Place Survey

and you will be taken directly to the survey! Once completed, it will
automatically be sent to us.

We will also be operating our Voting Hotline on election day:

1 (866) 262-3462

Thank you for your help, and happy voting!

Monitoring Visit to Southwest Idaho Treatment Center

Click here to download a PDF version of this notice

To: Any and All Legal Guardians of Residents of Southwest Idaho Treatment Center (SWITC)

RE: DisAbility Rights Idaho – Monitoring Visit to SWITC

Dear Guardian:
DRI is Idaho’s Protection and Advocacy System (P&A). Each state’s P & A is part of a federally mandated system with the authority and obligation to protect and advocate for the human and legal rights of individuals with developmental disabilities, mental illness and/or other disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (PADD), 42 U.S.C. § 15001, et seq.; Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI), 42 U.S.C. §10801; and, Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR), 20 U.S.C. §794e. Since our establishment in 1977, we have visited facilities/service providers across the state to monitor the rights and safety of individuals with disabilities, as well as to provide information to individuals with disabilities about our organization.

Pursuant to the authority above, DRI staff will visiting SWITC the week of May 4th and 5th, 2022. Our visit to the facility is for monitoring purposes, which simply means that we will be visiting the facility, speaking with residents and staff, and observing the general atmosphere and environment of the facility to monitor for compliance regarding safety and clients’ rights. If you should have any questions or concerns about this, please feel free to contact us at 1-866-262-3462.

Respectfully,

Kathryn Durrant
Attorney, Adult Unit

Click here to download a PDF version of this notice

Idaho Gives May 2-5, 2022

Idaho Gives May 2-5, 2022

Hello!
Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of your community’s day of giving – an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community.

We need your help! Please join our campaign and help us reach our goal of $20,000.

We need you to tell your friends and family members about the important work we do and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.

Get ready to give! On May 2nd – 5th, visit idahogives.org and make a donation to DisAbility Rights Idaho and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in your community. All giving will end at 11:59PM on May 5, so make sure to get your gift in on time!

Questions? If you have any questions or would like more information, let us know. 208- 336-5353. Thank you in advance for your generosity to our organization!
https://www.idahogives.org/organizations/disability-rights-idaho
#idahogives

Fearless Lawyering for Children

Click here to download a PDF version of this flyer

Please help us spread the word about this free training for Idaho lawyers. CLE credit will be provided for those who attend in-person. For those who cannot travel to Boise, a virtual link will be provided so that you can tune into the training, but we apologize that logistical challenges have prevented us from providing CLE credit to virtual attendees. Please feel free to share this announcement, we have a wonderful line up of speakers and all Idaho lawyers are welcome to join whether in-person or virtually.

Fearless Lawyering for Children
In-Person CLE Training for Idaho Lawyers
University of Idaho College of Law
501 W Front St, Boise, ID 83702
June 24, 2022
12:30—5:00 p.m.

To register to attend this program in-person, visit:

https://cvent.me/KRaN8W

To register to attend this program virtually, visit:

https://form.jotform.com/221156393625052

12:30—1:15 p.m. Youth panel or speaker: The difference a lawyer can make
1:15—2:30 p.m. When even adequate feels out of reach – Providing Zealous Advocacy to Our
Clients when the Demand for Legal Representation is Greater than the Resources

Lawyers can make a critical difference in juvenile justice and child welfare cases. This session will discuss how to ensure access to justice and zealous advocacy for each client whether you work within an organization or as a solo practitioner. Building rapport with child and youth clients and addressing burnout will be discussed as well as concrete information about how lawyers can provide excellent representation given the demands of a busy practice.

Speakers:
Casey Trupin, Raikes Foundation, Seattle, WA (moderator)

Wade Hyder, Senior Deputy Public Defender, Twin Falls County, Idaho

Franchesca Hamilton-Acker, Managing Attorney/Unit Leader, Child(ren) In Need of Care Unit, Acadiana Legal Service Corporation, Lafayette, LA

Stacy Pittman, Pittman Law, Coeur d’Alene, ID

2:30—2:45 p.m. Break
2:45—4:00 p.m. Keeping our Kids Connected to their Families, Communities and Schools

Knowing that a child’s connection to family, community and school is critical, how can lawyers best ensure that their clients in both the child welfare and juvenile justice system remain connected? This panel will address the important role that lawyers can play in addressing the lack of foster homes and placements; ensuring that our clients obtain an appropriate education; and keeping our clients connected to their families.

Speakers:
Judge Brent Pattison, District Associate Judge, Des Moines, Iowa

Kraig A. Smikel, Attorney – Youth Unit, DisAbility Rights Idaho, Boise, Idaho

Jessalyn Hopkin, Deputy Public Defender, Bannock County Public Defender’s Office, Pocatello, ID

4:00—5:00 p.m. One size does not fit all – getting the right services for your client

Advocating for and securing services for clients can be a challenge. Panelists will discuss how to identify the services that will meet the needs of your client, explore the current services in Idaho, and discuss what to do when needed services do not exist. Special attention will be paid to advocacy within rural areas, mental health needs, LGBTQ+ youth, transition-aged youth, and children who are involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Speakers:
Gabriella McDonald, Texas Appleseed, Austin, TX (moderator)

Abre’ Conner, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley

Terry Scraggins, LSW (he/they), MSW Student, Nampa, ID

To register to attend this program in-person, visit:

https://cvent.me/KRaN8W

To register to attend this program virtually, visit:

https://form.jotform.com/221156393625052

Thank you to the University of Idaho College of Law for providing space for this training.

Click here to download a PDF version of this flyer

2022 primary Election Information

2022 Primary Elections information
Information about the 2022 primary Elections

Click here to download a PDF containing 2022 Primary Election information.

DisAbility Rights Idaho (DRI) is a private, non-profit organization that is designated as Idaho’s Protection and Advocacy System. Funding authorized by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) allows DRI to ensure that voters with disabilities have the opportunity to participate in every step of the electoral process.

Inside This Issue
Page 2 – Voting Options & Deadlines
Page 3 – Voting Rights
Page 4- Addressing Barriers
Voter Hotline Information
Transportation Resources
Page 5 – COVID-19 Safety Tips
DRI Contact Information

DRI ELECTION DAY HOTLINE: 1-866-262-3462

Click here to download a PDF containing 2022 Primary Election information.

fair housing month

April is Fair Housing Month

Why fair housing matters

Fair housing builds stronger communities by ensuring everyone has the right to choose where they live without discrimination or harassment. By raising awareness of fair housing rights, we can build a stronger Idaho.

We all have the right to live where we choose and can afford. This affects our access to education, employment, health care, clean air and water, healthy food and recreation.

Fair housing supports economic opportunity, safety, health, productivity, independence and dignity.

DISCRIMINATION HURTS EVERYONE.

If you experience discrimination because of your color, race, religion, sex, national origin, family status or disability, speak up.

To learn more about fair housing protections in Idaho visit: idahohousing.com/fair-housing

CALL 2-1-1 TO REPORT A POSSIBLE VIOLATION.

Click here to download a poster celebrating Fair Housing Month

 

DisAbility Rights Idaho Monitor Visit of Summit Youth Academy

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of this Notice

March 11, 2022

To: Any and All Parents/Guardians of Summit Youth Academy

Re: DisAbility Rights Idaho Monitor Visit

Dear Parent/Guardian:
This letter is to inform you that DisAbility Rights Idaho (“DRI”) is planning to visit Summit Youth Academy Residential Treatment Center on the dates of March 28, 2022 through April 1, 2022. Our visit to the facility is for monitoring purposes, which simply means that we will be speaking with residents and staff, and observing the general atmosphere and environment of the facility to monitor for compliance regarding safety and clients’ rights.

DRI is Idaho’s Protection and Advocacy System (“P&A”). Each state’s P & A is part of a federally mandated system with the authority and obligation to protect and advocate for the human and legal rights of individuals with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and/or other disabilities. Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act (PADD), 42 U.S.C. § 15001, et seq.; Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI), 42 U.S.C. §10801; and, Protection and Advocacy for Individual Rights (PAIR), 20 U.S.C. §794e. Since our establishment in 1977, we have visited facilities/service providers across the state to monitor the rights and safety of individuals with disabilities, as well as to provide information to individuals with disabilities about our organization.

As part of our authority, DRI is entitled to access individuals with disabilities as well as all areas of the facility used by or accessible to those individuals.1 We are allowed “unaccompanied access” to all service providers and individuals with disabilities at reasonable times, which includes at a minimum normal working hours and visiting hours.2 This access includes “the opportunity to meet and communicate privately with such individuals regularly, both formally and informally, by telephone, mail, and in person.”3 DRI is permitted to meet with individuals with disabilities to provide information and training on, and referral to, programs that address the needs of individuals with disabilities, including the P & A system.4 We are also permitted to access the facility/service provider for the purpose of monitoring compliance with respect to the rights and safety of individuals with disabilities receiving services.5

If, in the course of the monitor visit, a resident raises questions or concerns that may only be properly addressed by a review of their facility records, DRI staff will ensure the resident’s parents/guardians sign a Consent for Release form.

If you have any questions or comments about this activity, please contact DRI at (208) 336-5353.

1 42 U.S.C. § 10805(a)(3); 42 U.S.C. § 15043(a)(2)(H); 42 C.F.R. § 51.42(c); 45 C.F.R. § 1326.27(a).
2 42 C.F.R. § 51.42(c); 45 C.F.R. § 1326.27(c).
3 42 C.F.R. § 51.42(c); 45 C.F.R. § 1326.27(d).
4 42 C.F.R. § 51.42(c)(1); 45 C.F.R. § 1326.27(c)(2)(i)
5 42 C.F.R.§ 51.42(c)(2); 45 C.F.R. § 1326.27 (c)(2)(ii).

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of this Notice

Comments on SB1376, Absentee Ballots

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of these Comments

RE: SB1376, Absentee Ballots

DisAbility Rights Idaho is the designated Protection and Advocacy system for the
State of Idaho. As such, DRI advocates for and educates on the rights of
Idahoans with disabilities. We have reviewed proposed bill SB1376; a bill which
would prohibit and criminalize the delivery of another person’s absentee ballot
outside of certain exceptions. We would like take this opportunity to address the
effects changes in this bill would have on the lives of eligible Idaho voters who
have disabilities and require assistance in completing their fundamental right to
vote.

SB1376 limits the collection or conveyance of a voter’s absentee ballot to: the
elector themselves, their caregiver, a family member, or a household member,
and requires any non-elector to sign an affidavit on the return envelope. This bill
prohibits and criminalizes such assistance by any other person. US postal workers,
employees of parcel delivery services, and employees of the county clerk’s office
are exempt from the provisions of the statute.

Such strict limitations present significant barriers for eligible Idahoans with
disabilities to exercise their fundamental right to vote, including those who are
aging, live in rural areas, live in facilities, live in facilities in rural areas, under
guardianship, and who either do not have family or do not live close to family.
These eligible voters would be denied legal and legitimate assistance to protect
their individual freedoms by exercising their right to vote.

Many eligible voting Idahoans with disabilities, including aging Idahoans, need a
functional mail in election system to exercise their right to vote and have a voice
in their government. These Idahoans who still live in their own homes may need
help in mailing or delivering their ballot to the elections office as they may be
dependent on others for transportation, or may not be able to leave their home.
These eligible voters who may live in a facility due to the natural aging process, or
because of a disability, and subsequently, no longer drive, are dependent on the
facility or others for transportation, or require other assistance with mailing or
delivering their ballot.

Idaho is a rural state. Many eligible aging or disabled Idaho voters live in rural
areas and many facilities are in rural areas where family members are often not
close enough to provide needed assistance in delivering or mailing a ballot as
required by the changes in SB1376. When this occurs, these voters rely on trusted
individuals who may not qualify as family members, household members, or
caregivers for regular assistance. This bill would effectively deny these eligible
voters their right to vote, solely because of their disability, by so narrowly defining
who can provide needed assistance. These voters worked and paid taxes. They
would be denied their right to vote, the very core of our democracy, simply
because they now have less independence and may need assistance to complete
their ballot.

The term “caregiver” as used by this act is not defined, nor is it defined anywhere
else in Title 34. This creates an ambiguity and dilemma for eligible voters and
persons asked to provide assistance. For example, many people with disabilities
have professional paid “caregivers” otherwise known as Direct Support Care
workers. Is such a person a caregiver under these statutory changes since they
get paid? Since they are paid, would they be subject to the felony provisions in the
statute; would delivering the ballot for the person or mailing the ballot for the
person while they are “on the clock” be considered as getting paid to deliver the
ballot? Or, if the worker out of the kindness of their heart delivers the ballot after
the shift is over, no longer be considered a “caregiver” and then be subjected to a
misdemeanor? These ambiguities could lead eligible voters to not ask for
assistance fearing they may subject this person to criminal prosecution. These
ambiguities could lead to persons saying no to a request for fear of being
prosecuted. Either way, the eligible voter with a disability encounters a barrier to
exercising their fundamental right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), Section 208 specifically allows for persons
with disabilities to be assisted by anyone they choose. Section 208 (52 US Code
§10508) states: “Any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of
blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a
person of the voter’s choice, other than the voter’s employer or agent of that
employer or officer or agent of the voter’s union.”

When Congress enacted the VRA, it was concerned that if persons with a disability
could not choose someone that they trust to assist them with casting their ballot
that they may choose not to vote at all. This concern lead them to draft Section
208 to ensure that voters with disabilities had the same freedom to vote enjoyed
by all citizens. SB1376 contradicts the purpose of Section 208 of the VRA, and
would have a negative effect on eligible voting Idahoans with disabilities.

Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and local
governments to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal
opportunity to vote. The ADA provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including
voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election
Day or during an early voting process. SB1376 contradicts the mandates under
the ADA to Title II of the ADA to ensure that no qualified individual with a disability
be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any of its programs, services, or activities, solely on the basis
of the individual’s disability.

Further, many Idahoans with disabilities are under guardianship. In 1998, the
people of Idaho voted to amend the Idaho Constitution to remove the restriction
on voting for persons under guardianship, restoring their right to vote. This bill
would reintroduce voting limitations on persons under guardianship by excluding
the assistance of guardians who do not qualify as family members, household
members, or caregivers. In fact, there is no way to know whether or not a
particular guardian qualifies as a caregiver under this bill because the term is not
defined. Some guardians could potentially be considered caregivers should they
have daily contact with and provide help with activities of daily living to the person
under their guardianship or if they are a family member. However, other guardians
may have minimal contact with the person under guardianship, and would likely
not qualify as a “caregiver”. Under this bill, these guardians, who have a legal duty
to provide assistance to the person under their guardianship; who can make
medical and end-of-life decisions for them, would be prohibited from mailing or
delivering their absentee ballot. This bill would put these guardians in the difficult
position of being charged with a misdemeanor if they assist the person under their
guardianship, or possibly violating their responsibility as a guardian if they do not
assist them. Moreover, Professional guardians are placed in an even more difficult
position as they receive fees for their services, and would risk a felony charge if
they aided the person under their guardianship with mailing or delivering their
ballot or be subject to judicial scrutiny in the guardianship court for not meeting
their duties as a guardian.

This bill also limits the number of ballots that a family member, household
member, or caregiver can mail or deliver. Professional caregivers at a facility
might be requested to assist multiple individuals with submitting their ballots. An
artificial limit of five (5) ballots seems to serve no purpose while creating a barrier
to receiving necessary assistance that would deprive eligible Idaho voters with a
disability their right to vote. This is also the case for professional guardians who
may have guardianship over dozens of individuals. In both cases, this arbitrary
limit only serves to block the assistance that eligible Idahoan voters need in order
to cast their vote.

This bill is not consistent with Idaho Law. Idaho Code, 66-401, the Legislative
Intent Section of the Treatment and Care of the Developmentally Disabled Act
states in part: “it is the purpose of the provisions of this chapter to promote the
general welfare of all citizens by establishing a system which permits partially
disabled and disabled persons to participate as fully as possible in all
decisions which affect them, (including) … protecting their rights… The
provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to accomplish these purposes
(emphasis mine).” SB1376 contradicts this purpose by limiting participation of
Idahoans with disabilities who need assistance in the voting process.

Idaho has a long history of respecting the voting rights and decisions of all eligible
Idaho voters, including those who have a disability, or otherwise require
assistance in casting their ballot. Idaho has also demonstrated that allowing voters
to choose whoever they prefer to assist them in the voting process has had no
negative impact on election integrity. In October of 2021, the Idaho Secretary of
State’s office issued a press release addressing allegations of fraud in the 2020
election. The Secretary concluded that these allegations were without merit and
reaffirmed the integrity of the Idaho election process.

Thank you for this opportunity to highlight some of the effects and barriers this
proposed legislation would have on eligible voting Idahoans with disabilities. If
you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you
for your time and attention to this matter.
Sincerely,

Joseph A. Earnest
Staff Attorney
DisAbility Rights Idaho

Amy Cunningham
Executive Director
DisAbility Rights Idaho

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of these Comments

Comments on SB1375

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of these Comments

RE: SB1375

DisAbility Rights Idaho is the designated Protection and Advocacy system for the
State of Idaho. As such, DRI advocates for the rights of Idahoans with Disabilities
and would like to provide education on how proposed legislation will affect the
lives of Idahoans with disabilities. DRI has reviewed SB1375 and the changes to
voter registration, absentee registration and voting. DRI would like take this
opportunity to provide comments on the effects changes in this bill would have on
the rights of eligible Idaho voters with disabilities.
Such strict limitations present significant barriers for Idahoans with disabilities to
exercise their fundamental right to vote, including those who are aging, live in
rural areas, live in facilities, live in facilities in rural areas, or are under
guardianship. These eligible voters would be denied legal and legitimate access to
their right to vote.

Photo Identification Card for Registration and Voting

SB1375 would make obtaining a current, Idaho State photo Identification Card or
Driver’s License a requirement for voting. This could present significant barriers to
voting for eligible Idaho voters with disabilities for the following reasons: Persons
with a disability may have physical limitations that prevent them from obtaining a

driver’s license. Students with disabilities who do not drive but attend post-
secondary schools will no longer be allowed to use their officially issued Idaho

student identification card. Many individuals with disabilities and those who are
aging, especially those in rural areas, lack transportation resources. Public
transportation is not available or does not exist. Moreover, those on a limited or
fixed income, cannot afford to pay an Uber or Taxi to drive them to the DMV to
obtain a state ID. Some eligible voters with disabilities on Medicaid may have
access to non-medical transportation, however, this is a very limited service.
When combined with the direct care staff workforce shortage transportation
options are further limited.

Proof of Citizenship for Registration and Voting

SB1375 requires that the photo ID be current, show the voter’s current address,
and show proof of citizenship. While several options for photo identification are
included as acceptable, only a passport, concealed weapons permit, or some other
government documentation show proof of citizenship. An Idaho driver’s license or
identification card does not currently show citizenship. Even the Idaho “Star card”
is obtainable without proof of citizenship. Therefore, the proposed changes require
a passport, concealed weapons permit, or some other government documentation
that shows citizenship in order to vote. This is an enormous barrier to all Idaho
voters, especially eligible voters with a disability and older voters who are on fixed
incomes and cannot afford these documents. The current cost of obtaining a US
passport is at least $130.00, not including the cost of the photos and postage. The
cost of a concealed weapons permit is a minimum of $20.00, plus the cost of
firearms training, but this cost varies by county. While SB1375 provides for an
application of financial assistance to the DMV in order to obtain a photo ID, neither
a driver’s license nor state ID demonstrate proof of citizenship. There is no
application for financial assistance to obtain a passport or concealed weapons
permit. Furthermore, passports and concealed weapons permits are not readily
available and take a substantial amount of time to obtain. According to the US
Department of State website, obtaining a passport can take from between 8-13
weeks to obtain, or 5-9 weeks if an additional fee is paid for expedited service.
Concealed weapons permits require both firearm training and a background check.
If an individual does not have a readily available birth certificate, then this process
is prolonged even further, adding another 2-4 weeks. Some individuals may not
even have official birth certificates available due to records being destroyed and/or
never being sent to the Department of Health and Welfare, or have incorrect
information on their birth certificates that need to be corrected. These individuals
are forced to hire an attorney to pursue a court case against the department in
order to obtain a birth certificate that will allow them to obtain the necessary ID to
vote. This bill would require eligible disabled voters to apply for a passport or a
concealed weapons permit in order to vote, both of which are long processes and
financially challenging; both substantial barriers for eligible Idaho voters with
disabilities. This bill also includes an emergency clause which, if passed, would
bring this law into effect prior to the November election, potentially making it
impossible for many Idahoans to vote. Idaho has a long history of being respectful
of the voting rights of all Idahoans. This long history includes the freedom to prove
one’s identity by signing an affidavit if they are unable to provide a current photo
ID. Removing this option and adding such strict requirements places barriers that
will prevent eligible voting Idahoans from exercising their right to, the very core of
our republic.

SB1375 allows for additional documentation if the address shown on the voter ID
is not current, or if the ID is expired, but does not offer a way to cure a photo ID
that does not show proof of citizenship. Instead this bill requires that the voter
submit proof of citizenship within two (2) business days or their ballot is voided.
However, this bill provided no options for documentation to prove citizenship other
than a photo ID that shows citizenship status. Not only is the two-day window an
extremely difficult bar to voting, it would appear to be impossible for a voter to
prove citizenship within that timeframe unless they already possessed a passport
or concealed weapons permit. Even if the bill provided guidance on
documentation to cure the defect, requiring proof within two (2) business days is a
substantial barrier for eligible voters with disabilities. As noted above, many
Idahoans with disabilities have limited transportation options, compounded by the
direct care staff workforce shortage in Idaho, especially in rural counties. Should
proof of citizenship be available, scheduling an additional trip to the polling place
within two (2) days would place an egregious and unnecessary barrier on the
exercise of the right to vote. Lastly, curing defects after July 1, 2023 disappears
and eligible voters with disabilities will be forced to obtain either a passport or
concealed weapons permit.

Although proving one’s citizenship may sound straightforward, most citizens do
not have sufficient documentation readily at hand, and many face extreme
difficulty in obtaining the necessary documents. Moreover, there is no evidence of
a problem in Idaho of non-citizen voting, or of voter fraud. Several states have
passed laws requiring proof of citizenship to vote. These laws resulted in a
reduction of voters participating in the electoral process and these laws have been
subsequently overturned in court because the states could not show substantial
evidence of fraud that would justify the reduction in voting that occurred.

Proof of Residency for Registration and Voting

SB1375 creates identical strict requirements for voter registration as it does for
voting regarding proof of residency, citizenship and identity. These requirements
would force eligible Idaho voters with disabilities to obtain a passport, concealed
weapons permit, or some other government documentation in order to register to
vote. This creates the same barriers as discussed above for eligible Idaho voters
with disabilities to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Mandatory Vote in-person

SB1375 requires any eligible voter who effects their voter registration
electronically or by mail to vote in person at least once before they can request an
absentee ballot. This new requirement is especially burdensome for eligible Idaho
voters with disabilities. While the bill allows voters who are ill or physically
impaired to apply for an exception to this requirement, this does not remove the
barrier. The new requirement singles out Idaho voters who are older or who have
disabilities who live in facilities, or who are homebound by requiring an additional
application when applying for their first absentee ballot. In addition, this
exemption would not be available to all older Idahoans or those with a disability.
The exception is only available for those who, “by reason of illness or physical
incapacity, (are) prevented from voting in person at a polling place.” This bill does
not define “illness” or “physical incapacity”, nor does it give any guidance on what
it means to be “prevented from voting in person”. These terms are extremely
loose and arbitrary, and create barriers to voting for persons with a disability. This
language discriminates against Idahoans with a disability and older Idahoans who
do not wish to vote in person, or have any other reason to not vote in person that
does not meet the undefined language of “illness” or “physical incapacity”. This
provision would deny the right to vote for these Idahoans, many of who have paid
taxes their entire lives and because of the natural aging process are unable to
appear at a polling place in person.

Absentee Ballot Envelopes

SB1375 creates a new absentee ballot return envelope requirement that exposes
to the public sensitive personal information from Idaho voters and those who
assist them in delivering or mailing their ballots. The new requirements single out
eligible voting Idahoans with disabilities and older Idahoans who need to use the
absentee voting system or need assistance in delivering their absentee ballots.
Additionally, a person who is only assisting in mailing or delivering the ballot must
also meet the same requirements as the voter, i.e, a current photo ID that shows
their residence and citizenship, even though they themselves may not be voting.
This places an unreasonable burden on the voter with a disability to inquire if the
individual they have chosen to assist them has a passport or concealed weapons
permit. This could place the eligible voter with a disability in a position where they
are unable to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA), Section 208 specifically allows for persons
with disabilities to be assisted by anyone they choose. Section 208 (52 US Code
§10508) states: “Any voter who requires assistance to vote by reason of
blindness, disability, or inability to read or write may be given assistance by a
person of the voter’s choice, other than the voter’s employer or agent of that
employer or officer or agent of the voter’s union.” When Congress enacted the
VRA, they were concerned that if persons with a disability could not choose
someone that they trust to assist them with casting their ballot that they may
choose not to vote at all. This concern lead them to draft Section 208 to ensure
that voters with disabilities had the same freedom to vote enjoyed by all citizens.
The new requirements in SB1375 contradict the provisions in the VRA.

Moreover, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires state and
local governments to ensure that people with disabilities have a full and equal
opportunity to vote. The ADA provisions apply to all aspects of voting, including
voter registration, site selection, and the casting of ballots, whether on Election
Day or during an early voting process. SB1375 contradicts the mandates under
Title II of the ADA to ensure that no qualified individual with a disability be
excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to
discrimination under any of its programs, services, or activities, solely on the basis
of the individual’s disability. The new requirements in SB1375 contradict the
provisions in Title II of the ADA.

Elimination of Drop Boxes

SB1375 requires that absentee ballots be mailed or personally delivered to the
county clerk. This change effectively eliminates the use of drop boxes. Idaho is a
rural state and many of its counties are geographically large. Drop boxes offer a
method for eligible voters to return their absentee ballots without having to travel
long distances to the county seat. During the 2020 election, drop boxes were used
in several counties in Idaho including Ada County, Elmore County, and Owyhee
County. These drop boxes were put into place by county clerks who sought to
increase access to voting for all Idahoans, including those with disabilities.
Residents of Melba were able to use a drop box for their ballots, and did not have
to drive the 17+ miles to Murphy. Likewise, residents of Kuna or Meridian could
use a drop box instead of making the 1+ hour round trip to Boise to drop off their
ballot.

During election season, the US mail system is often delayed due to the increase in
absentee ballots and political ads. Since absentee ballots must be received by
election day, eligible voters may choose to drop off their ballots to guarantee a
timely delivery. As exemplified above, many individuals with disabilities and those
who are aging, especially those in rural areas, lack transportation resources, rural
counties, lack public transportation, and eligible voters with a disability who have
an available option to arrange or pay for transportation to deliver their absentee
ballot to the county seat, face the difficulty of scheduling timely transports, and
the unreliability of these transportation providers that this Legislature is well
aware of — cancelling at the last minute, arriving in an inaccessible vehicle, etc.
Thus, the elimination of drop boxes presents a significant barrier for these eligible
voters to participate in elections.

The presence of drop boxes in the 2020 election allowed eligible Idaho voters with
disabilities another option to exercise their vote without compromising the
integrity of the election. There are no reports of drop box tampering during the
2020 election in Idaho. Despite allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, the Idaho
Secretary of State’s office reported in a press release on October 6th, 2021 that
there was no evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

The Idaho Human Rights Act prohibits the discrimination of individuals with a
disability, specifically by imposing eligibility criteria that screens out or tends to
screen out any class of individuals with disabilities from fully and equally enjoying
any goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of a
place of public accommodation, which would include access to all aspects of the
voting process. SB1375 conflicts with the Idaho Human Rights Act by tending to
screen out individuals with a disability from their right to vote by requiring
identification that persons with a disability are less likely to have, by requiring
additional applications for absentee ballots, by denying the ability to request an
absentee ballot, and by restricting who can assist them in mailing or delivering
their absentee ballot.

We urge you to consider the effects and barriers the SB1375 will have on eligible
voting Idahoans with disabilities. If you have any further questions, please do not
hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Joseph A. Earnest
Staff Attorney
DisAbility Rights Idaho

Amy Cunningham
Executive Director
DisAbility Rights Idaho

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Comments on HB693, Prohibition of Drop Boxes

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RE: HB693, Prohibition of Drop Boxes

DisAbility Rights Idaho is the designated Protection and Advocacy system for the
State of Idaho. As such, DRI advocates for and educates on the rights of
Idahoans with Disabilities. We have reviewed the proposed bill HB693; a bill
which would prohibit drop boxes for the collection of absentee ballots. We would
like to take this opportunity to address the effects changes in this bill would have
on the lives of eligible Idaho voters who have disabilities and require assistance in
completing their fundamental right to vote.

HB693 prohibits the use of drop boxes or similar drop off locations for the
collection of absentee ballots.

Such strict limitations present significant barriers for Idahoans with disabilities to
exercise their fundamental right to vote, including those who are aging, live in
rural areas, and those who have limited access to transportation. These eligible
voters would be denied their freedoms by exercising their right to vote.

Idaho is a rural state and many of its counties are geographically large. Drop
boxes offer a method for eligible voters to return their absentee ballots without
having to travel long distances to the county seat. During the 2020 election, drop
boxes were used in several counties in Idaho including Ada County, Elmore
County, and Owyhee County. These drop boxes were put into place by county
clerks who sought to increase access to voting for all Idahoans, including those
with disabilities. Residents of Melba were able to use a drop box for their ballots,
and did not have to drive the 17+ miles to Murphy. Likewise, residents of Kuna or
Meridian could use a drop box instead of making the 1+ hour round trip to Boise
to drop off their ballot.

Many individuals with disabilities and those who are aging, especially those in rural
areas, lack transportation resources. Public transportation is not available or does
not exist. Moreover, those on a limited or fixed income, cannot afford to pay an
Uber or Taxi to drive them to the county seat to hand deliver their ballot. Some
eligible voters with disabilities on Medicaid may have access to non-medical
transportation, however, this is a very limited service. When combined with the
direct care staff workforce shortage transportation options are further limited.
Thus, the elimination of drop boxes presents a significant barrier for these eligible
voters to participate in elections.

During election season, the US mail system is often delayed due to the increase in
absentee ballots and political ads. Since absentee ballots must be received by
election day, eligible voters may choose to drop off their ballots to guarantee a
timely delivery. As exemplified above, should an eligible voter with a disability
have an available option to arrange or pay for transportation to deliver their
absentee ballot to the county seat, this Legislature is well aware of past
unreliability of these transportation providers – difficulty scheduling timely
transports, cancelling at the last minute, arriving in an inaccessible vehicle.
Moreover, without a clear definition of the term “drop box”. Eligible Idaho voters
with disabilities may experience confusion since every post office has drop boxes
for mail to be dropped off outside of work hours. Further, rural communities often
do not have a staffed post office, but only drop boxes. Finally, some County Clerk
offices have after-hours drop boxes on the building itself. Without a definition,
eligible voters with disabilities experience another barrier to freely and confidently
exercise their right to vote.

The presence of drop boxes in the 2020 election allowed eligible Idaho voters with
disabilities another option to exercise their vote without compromising the
integrity of the election. There are no reports of drop box tampering during the
2020 election in Idaho. Despite allegations of fraud in the 2020 election, the Idaho
Secretary of State’s office reported in a press release on October 6th, 2021 that
there was no evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

This HB693 contains an emergency clause which would potentially enact this law
as soon as it is passed. Eligible voting Idahoans with a disability who relied on a
drop box in the 2020 election to effectuate their vote may be denied their vote in
2022 if this bill is enacted prior to the election.

Idaho has a long history of being respectful of the voting rights of all Idahoans.
Idahoans have the freedom to vote in person prior to election day, to request an
absentee ballot for any reason, to submit their absentee ballot by mail, or to drop
off their absentee ballot at the county election office or at areas and drop boxes
designated for that purpose. The use of drop boxes to collect absentee ballots is
consistent with this history and highlights the integrity of our elections in Idaho.

We urge you to consider the effects and barriers the proposed changes in HB693
will have on eligible voting Idahoans with disabilities. If you have any further
questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your time and
attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Joseph A. Earnest
Staff Attorney
DisAbility Rights Idaho

Amy Cunningham
Executive Director
DisAbility Rights Idaho

Click Here to Download a PDF Version of these Comments