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Idaho Coalition United for Bears v. Cenarrusa
Under the law that was challenged, petitioners had to gather 6% of the state's registered voters at the most recent general election from 22 of the 44 counties in the state.
On November 30, 2001, a U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill granted relief to the plaintiffs, and declared Idaho's geographic distribution requirement for signatures on initiative petitions unconstitutional on the grounds that the restrictions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Winmill's ruling is the first time that a court threw out a county-based distribution requirement.
Because more than 60% of Idaho's registered voters are located in 9 counties, the judge ruled the requirement to be unfair. He wrote, "...it easy to envision a situation where three-fourths of Idaho's voters sign a petition but fail to get it on the ballot because they could not collect 6 percent of the vote in rural counties." Since Idaho passed the geographic distribution requirement in 1997, no initiatives have qualified for the ballot.
- Copy of the court decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District (PDF). This is the higher court decision upholding the lower court's ruling that the distribution requirement was unconstitutional.