Student Voting Guide | Idaho

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Idaho.

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Idaho.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state in which you attend school. If you are interested in casting an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


You are eligible to vote in Idaho if you are 18 years old and have resided in the state and county you wish to vote in for at least 30 days prior to the election.[1] You may register to vote if you will be 18 by the next general election.

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote.[2] If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.

Idaho has Election Day registration, and allows voters to register to vote at the polls if they show proof of residency (See the Residency below for more details).[3] You can prove residency by:

  1. Showing an Idaho driver's license or Idaho state ID card; or
  2. Showing any document which contains a valid address in the precinct together with a picture identification card; or
  3. Showing a current and valid student photo identification card from a college or university in Idaho accompanied by a current tuition bill that contains your valid address in the precinct.[4]

You may also register to vote in advance by mail[5] or in person[6] at your county clerk’s office. The deadline for voter registration in advance of the election is 25 days before Election Day.[7] Mail-in registration forms must be postmarked no later than 25 days before the election.[8]

You can check whether you are registered on the Idaho Elections website.


In Idaho your voting residency is determined by your “principal or primary home,” defined as the place where you intend to return after being away for any length of time.[9] You do not gain or lose voting residency in Idaho solely because of your status as a student.[10] Physical presence within the state because of school is a “neutral factor” when making a residency determination.[11]

At School.  Students can establish residency in Idaho if they have a present intention to remain at their Idaho school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.[12] You have the right to cast a ballot as a resident of Idaho regardless of whether you pay in-state or out-of-state tuition.

However, Idaho law makes clear that simply being a student is inadequate to establish your school address as your principal home. Factors that election officials consider in determining residency include whether you live year-round in Idaho, keep personal property in Idaho, have an Idaho driver’s license, are employed in Idaho, are a member of social and civil organizations in Idaho, have an Idaho-based bank account, or list your Idaho address on other government forms.[13]

Voting in Idaho is a declaration of residency in Idaho, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents. Thus, for instance, you may be required to acquire an Idaho drivers’ license if you register to vote in Idaho.[14]

At Home. Students who lived in Idaho but moved to another state for school, and who wish to establish or keep their Idaho voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state. Like most states, Idaho allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the county or state to attend school; indeed, in Idaho this rule is enshrined in the State Constitution.[15]

The only way you will lose this residency is if you “abandon” it by asserting residency in a new state.[16] However if you have moved to another state within thirty days of election and haven’t changed your registration to your new state, you can still vote in Idaho.[17] While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in Idaho, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Idaho with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register.

Challenges to Residency. If an election official denies your registration, you can appeal to your county clerk for a review hearing.[18] This hearing must be held within 10 days of your appeal, and you have the right to present evidence on your behalf during the hearing.[19] The county clerk will make a final decision at the conclusion of the hearing.[20]

Your eligibility to vote can also be challenged at the polls by partisan challengers or by registered voters in your precinct.[21] Any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid. If you declare yourself qualified under oath, you will be entitled to vote by regular ballot.[22]


All voters in Idaho are asked to present identification when voting.[23] This requirement is satisfied by: an Idaho driver’s license or state ID card; a US passport, a photo ID issued by the US government; a tribal ID card, with photograph; or a current student photo ID (either a high school or college ID) from an accredited institution in Idaho.

However, if you do not have one of the above IDs, you may instead swear to your name and address under oath and will be permitted to vote a regular ballot.[24]

Absentee Voting

Any registered voter can vote absentee in any election in Idaho.[25] You must apply for an absentee ballot. Absentee voting applications can be submitted in person, by mail, or fax and must be received by the county clerk (not just postmarked) at least 6 days before Election Day.[26]

You will then be mailed an absentee ballot. Alternatively, you can apply in person and vote at the same time (see the section below on Early Voting). Completed absentee ballots must be received by the county clerk, either in person or by mail, by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.[27]

Early Voting

As a convenience to voters, Idaho has “in-person absentee ballot voting,” otherwise known as “early voting” which begins on or before the third Monday before the election and ends at 5 pm on the Friday before Election Day.[28] Early voting may not be offered by a particular district. At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county. You should check your county clerk’s office website for exact dates, times, and locations for early voting.

Last Updated August 15, 2014

[1] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-104.

[2] Idaho Code Ann. § 18-310.

[3] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-408A.

[4] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-408A.

[5] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-410.

[6] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-407(1).

[7] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-408(1).

[8] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-410.

[9] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-107(1).

[10] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-405; Idaho Const. art. 6, § 5.

[11] Idaho Votes, Student and Voting Residency, .

[12] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[13] Idaho Votes, Student and Voting Residency,; see also Idaho Code Ann. § 34-107 (listing other relevant factors including “business pursuits, employment, income sources, residence for income or other tax pursuits, residence of parents, spouse, and children, if any, leaseholds, [location] of personal and real property, and motor vehicle registration.”)

[14] See Idaho Code Ann. § 49-119(12) (residency established by declaring residency for voter registration purposes); Idaho Code Ann. § 49-302(5) (residents must acquire an Idaho drivers’ license). 

[15] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-405; Idaho Const. art. 6, § 5.

[16] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-107(5) (“If a qualified elector moves to another state…with the intention of making it his permanent home, he shall be considered to have lost his residence in this state.”).

[17] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-413.

[18] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-412(2).

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-304.

[22] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1111.

[23] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1113.

[24] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1114.

[25] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1001.

[26] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1002.

[27] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1005.

[28] Idaho Code Ann. § 34-1012.