With 11 days before the election, state officials are asking the Supreme Court to hear their appeal to Thursday’s court ruling that Memphis library cards can be used to vote with.
The Attorney General’s office argues the Court of Appeals erred when it ordered the state to work with the local election commission to accept library photo IDs, decided the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the voter ID law, and concluded that the city of Memphis and its library system are “entities of this state” and qualify for offering so-called state-issued IDs.
“Such review is equally compelled by the fact that the Court of Appeals’ decision has essentially changed the rules on what type of identification is needed to vote in the midst of the election process,” read the request, which can be found here.
A three-judge panel with the Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court Thursday that the state’s much-debated voter ID law is constitutional, but reversed the lower court’s decision and found that photo ID cards from the Memphis Public Library are valid under state law to be used to vote with.
In the 18-page ruling, the Court of Appeals ordered the state to work with the Shelby County election commission to permit people using library IDs to vote in the election. The decision said the library qualifies as a “branch, department, agency or entity of this state” permitted to issue IDs poll workers would accept.
The state argues the ruling left in question whether poll workers across the state would have to accept similar IDs.
“The court did not directly address how photo ID cards issued by other Tennessee local governments should be dealt with ... during the November 6 election or thereafter or the use of City of Memphis Public Library cards as identification in other Tennessee counties,” read the filing.
Up until this ruling, the state would accept only state or federally issued IDs with a photo, such as valid or expired drivers licenses from any state, military IDs and handgun carry permits. The law specifically exempted college student IDs.
The case stemmed from two Memphis residents whose votes were not counted after they voted with a photo ID issued from the Memphis Public Library, which began issuing the photo IDs this year.
The state filing indicated that voters there will be able to use library cards as valid IDs to vote with in Memphis as they finish out the remaining five days of early voting and head into the general election. But state officials say those voters will be casting provisional ballots labeled as having voted with the library card.
If and when the state’s high court will entertain the appeal has yet to be decided, according to the court spokeswoman.