Ninth Circuit denies Idaho’s request for stay to stop online signature gathering for K-12 education initiative

Thursday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by the State of Idaho to stay a decision by a U.S. District Court in Idaho to allow for electronic signature gathering for Reclaim Idaho’s education initiative. The Appeals Court scheduled a hearing on the merits of the case for August. The decision paves the way for volunteers to collect signatures online immediately.

Thursday was the deadline for Governor Brad Little and Secretary of State Lawerence Denney to reach an agreement with Reclaim Idaho regarding a system for online signature collection for the group’s “Invest in Idaho” education initiative.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Reclaim Idaho could collect electronic signatures for its initiative, saying the state violated the group’s First Amendment rights by failing to provide for a safe means of signature collection in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Judge Winmill ordered the state to meet and confer with Reclaim Idaho and agree to a plan for electronic signature collection by July 9th. Absent an agreement, the judge will allow Reclaim Idaho to implement its own plan to collect electronic signatures provided it meets “highest available standards.”

Reclaim Idaho Co-Founder Luke Mayville announced that Reclaim plans to move forward, finalize their system, and begin collecting signatures online early next week.

“After weeks of work and multiple discussions with the state, we’ve developed a detailed, industry-standard plan for the collection of electronic signatures in compliance with the judge’s order,” Mayville said. “We’ve made every effort to solicit the state’s feedback and adjust our design accordingly. We’re confident the system in place will indeed meet the highest available standards for electronic signature gathering.”

The judge’s order gives Reclaim Idaho 48 days to collect signatures electronically starting July 9th.

Background: Reclaim Idaho is the nonpartisan, volunteer organization responsible for getting Medicaid Expansion on the November 2018 ballot. The measure passed with 61% of the statewide vote. In addition to providing healthcare access to tens of thousands of Idahoans, Medicaid Expansion is expected to bring back $400 million in federal funds to Idaho, shore up Idaho’s rural hospitals, and create thousands of jobs around the state.

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