AG says voter ID requirement likely would be unconstitutional

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 1:30pm

A proposed state law requiring voters to show photo identification “unduly burdens the right to vote” and probably would be held unconstitutional by the courts, the state attorney general said Wednesday in a formal opinion.

Because the legislation includes no provision to pay for photo IDs for voters who don’t have them, Attorney General Bob Cooper said the requirement “constitutes a poll tax,” a fee making voting uneconomical for poor people.

Cooper’s opinion points to a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Indiana’s photo ID law because that state gave free ID cards to voters without driver’s licenses. Tennessee charges $10 for an identification-only card.

Over the protests of Democrats, the state Senate voted 21-11 in February to require voters to show photo IDs. Republicans argued the new requirement would stop fraud, pointing out some 13,000 dead people and 12,000 felons have been discovered on voter rolls in the past two years.

Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said his bill addresses “the need to protect the purity of the ballot box.”

Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to disenfranchise Democratic voters. They say about 500,000 Tennesseans of voting age have no government-issued photo ID card, and the bill would discourage or prevent many of them — mostly poor and elderly people — from voting.

A separate bill by Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, calls for the state to issue free identification-only cards.

18 Comments on this post:

By: shinestx on 4/13/11 at 1:40

Of course! Didn't you know that knowing if you're actually a registered voter would hurt the Dem-wits' vote-fraud efforts. It's how they've won many elections since 2000... Just ask Al Franken and Loretta Sanchez!

By: yogiman on 4/13/11 at 1:59

The times they are a changing, shinestx. The US we are living in today is nothing like the one we lived in not too many years ago. There is more people put in office through voter frauds today than has ever been in the past.

As a simple matter, look at the President's office. Where did he come from? Why did so many states make the comment they found more votes than registered voters in their states?

By: AmyLiorate on 4/13/11 at 2:44

"some 13,000 dead people and 12,000 felons have been discovered on voter rolls in the past two years."

That is some serious voting problems. While we should thank any legislator who can make a big dent in the damages done to our collective representation by massive voting abuse like that... why didn't they make the bill allow for free voter IDs

By: yogiman on 4/13/11 at 3:18

I agree, Amy. In today's times and circumstances I feel there should be a photo identity card for everyone who is old enough and registered as a voter.

And, as times change our looks (you know, as you grow older) the card should be renewed every few years, like a driver's license.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/13/11 at 3:34

"...13,000 dead people and 12,000 felons have been discovered on voter rolls in the past two years,"

Oh, and in case you didn't know, 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions.

You guys believe Ketron? Still?

You guys believe Republicans? Still?

Do you have any idea of there's any factual basis for those claims? Any idea what the geographic and time spread for those numbers, if accurate, might be?

weh ho lee cow, people. Pay a little contention heah, OK?


By: RTungsten on 4/13/11 at 3:39

Free ID cards are nice, but what are the requirements on getting one? It's not like you can show ID to get one...

By: revo-lou on 4/13/11 at 3:40

HP, now you KNOW that repubs ALWAYS tell the truth.

By: revo-lou on 4/13/11 at 3:41

Photo IDs sounds like MORE government involvment, not less. What is happening to the repubs?

By: yogiman on 4/13/11 at 4:38


Should we believe the demoncraps instead of the republicraps? Why are we supposed to believe either one of them? Most of them on both sides don't seem to know what truth is.


There is a thing called finger prints that will identify you. But if you've sanded your prints off you don't deserve the right to vote for that guy they've bought you for.

By: CrimesDown on 4/13/11 at 5:21

I don't understand what the problem is with identifying yourself to vote. Most people of voting age already have a picture I.D. Most of the times I've voted, I had to stand in line longer than I have at the DMV. If people are healthy enough to vote, they should be healthy enough to get a Tennessee I.D.. I wouldn't have a problem with an elderly person using a non-picture I.D. if they were not healthy enough to get a Tennessee photo I.D..

By: HokeyPokey on 4/13/11 at 7:40

yogiman, I will agree, you have a point.

In my experience with the General Assembly, however, with the exception of Gary Odom I've found the Democrats to be marginally more dependable and honest than their brethren on the other side of the aisle.

OTOH, you could sweep the aisle with Odom's carcass and it would be more foul when you finished than before you began.


By: govskeptic on 4/14/11 at 6:43

I'm sure that 3M has a lot of old Photo equipment that could be bought for a
song and placed in the Election office. Even better a $79.00 digital with a
photo printer would cost less than $1.00 per photo. Charging a dollar or
two for those that need such identification surely wouldn't be considered a
tax! If so, just print their name in the newspaper and ask the public to
donate for their particular ID. Serious ID is needed versus the flimsy
piece of paper current used by our Voter registration office. Only those
supporting continued "fraud" in this process should oppose this measure!

By: Ingleweird on 4/14/11 at 7:44

Why would the Republicans even waste their time asking the AG for his opinion? They are simply going to ignore it and ramrod their unconstitutional legislation through the shill bill mill anyway.

By: Ingleweird on 4/14/11 at 9:04

Bill Ketron is a numbskull, a charlatan, a shill, or all of the above. If he was truly concerned with "the need to protect the purity of the ballot box," he would find the time to compel his colleagues, Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville, and Rep. Glen Casada of College Grove, to withdraw HB 0414 and SB 1805.

These bills will REPEAL the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, which would require Tennessee to use verifiable and re-countable paper ballots in our elections. Anybody who wishes to eliminate voter fraud in TN would be a FOOL to not support the TN Voter Confidence Act. Tell your legislators to KILL HB 0414 and SB 1805 today!

By: pswindle on 4/14/11 at 5:47

The only way to protect the ballot box is to have a paper trail so each vote can be verified. This photo ID will not protect the vote. Look how a clerk in WI found just enougth votes to stop a re-count. Pleaseeeeeeeeeee!

By: Moonglow1 on 4/15/11 at 7:12

Moonglow1: finally a voice of reason shining through the politically charged muck espoused by our truly ignorant right wing legislators following the nationally led agenda of the extreme right to disenfranchise democratic voters. I hope the AG is able to succeed in his efforts to declare this unconstitutional. And Bill Ketron who on earth do you represent. Whose money bought you the election? Purity of the ballot box. Does that mean whites only.

By: Activate on 4/15/11 at 7:30

By: HokeyPokey on 4/15/11 at 7:59

If you can read this...

read this: