State Senate, House at impasse over what IDs to allow at polls

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 12:31am

The two chambers of the General Assembly are at odds over whether to allow college students to use their university ID as a valid photo identification at the polls, although they agreed to ban local government IDs.

Allowing college students to use their college IDs to vote was adopted by the Senate but stripped from the House version of the bill. Unless one of the chambers changes its mind and goes along with the other, lawmakers could be headed to a showdown in a “conference committee” to decide whether they can get on the same page.

Lawmakers “were afraid of fraudulent IDs, perhaps. I can understand there’s always a fear, but then again, you can make a fraudulent ID for anything,” said the bill’s sponsor Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet), who originally supported allowing students to use their student IDs at the polls before a House committee pulled that provision from the bill. “I don’t know that the college IDs will pass in the House. I really don’t.”

The House version of the bill, passed 65-30 Monday. The Senate bill passed 21-8 earlier this month.

One aspect both sides agree on is locking down what level of government ID poll workers will accept as valid identification. At the polls, the bill would require workers to reject photo IDs from municipalities and counties. Only IDs issued by Tennessee or the federal government would be accepted.

The legislation attempts to address a legal battle brewing in the Tennessee Supreme Court between the state and the city of Memphis, which issued library cards with photos for Memphis voters to use in last year’s August primary election and the November general election.

Originally, state officials restricted valid IDs to any issued by a state entity or federal government, such as a driver’s license, military ID and a handgun carry permit. Memphis city officials took the state to court after residents were turned away from the polls for using cards issued from the library, which the city argued qualified as an entity of the state.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ordered the state to inform poll workers in Memphis to accept the library cards in the November 2012 election. The state Supreme Court, which heard arguments on the case last month, has yet to make a ruling.

Several lawmakers opposed the bill, including Rep. Antonio Parkinson, a Memphis Democrat, who argued the measure is a form of voter suppression and the bill is trying to run interference on the Supreme Court Decision. Lynn contends the law was never meant to allow libraries to issue photo IDs voters could use at the polls.

“It’s just really clarifying the original law. It was misinterpreted by that local government and I’m sure they found a loophole because of the wording of the text, but we’re just trying to fix that,” Lynn said.

Some lawmakers in the House argued the bill as written wouldn’t allow Tennessee property owners who live out of state to vote, primarily in local elections. Lynn said she hopes to address that issue with the Senate sponsor.

The legislation now heads back to the Senate for its action.

17 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 3/25/13 at 10:56

What is the problem? An ID is an ID? Let the people vote!

By: Ask01 on 3/26/13 at 3:28

Now, pswindle, you know that our state legislature cannot allow such a concept to stand.

The wrong people might vote.

You know, anyone who might not vote Republican.

The upside is, between now and the next election, all the 'undesirables' will be driven to obtain the proper ID and, in an all too likely act of utter contempt, sweep the Republicans from power in this state and bring us into at least the 20th century. It's a start at least.

By: govskeptic on 3/26/13 at 4:50

The college ID's have nothing about whether you are a citizen or not when they are
provided to a student. They are mainly for usage within the college. They are no
more secure for voting than a library card. The sponsors are patronizing for the
student votes versus securing the votes. The House version is the best bill.

By: ancienthighway on 3/26/13 at 5:30

The only ID that I'm aware of identifying citizenship is a passport. All the state driver's license or ID does is require citizenship or legal alien status for issue. So as long as the picture and name on the ID are legitimate, I don't see the problem of any picture ID issued by the state, a local government, or state funded university as being acceptable. I can see drawing the line at Bob's Diner's picture IDs or something along that line.

The Voter ID law was put in place to supposedly stop people from voting twice and changing the outcome of elections. The only thing it did was force anyone so inclined to have a fake ID made. Just ask any high school senior or underaged college student. I'm sure they could give some pointers.

By: Kosh III on 3/26/13 at 6:52

Lynn and the other fascist nannies should learn to read what they avow to adore:

Tennessee Constitution
"Section 5. That elections shall be free and equal, and the right of suffrage, as hereinafter declared, shall never be denied to any person entitled thereto, except upon a conviction by a jury of some infamous crime, previously ascertained and declared by law, and judgment thereon by court of competent jurisdiction."

The clear intent is for all to vote, no ID required.

By: Rocket99 on 3/26/13 at 7:34

govskeptic, where on your state issued drivers license does it indicate you are a US citizen? Inquiring minds want to know.

If a valid photo ID is required, any valid photo ID issued by any government entity should be acceptable regardless of whether it's a library card issued by Shelby County, student ID issued by MTSU, city or county employee ID issued by local government, etc.

The GOP has been pushing this for quite a while to stop a problem which doesn't exist yet, they will do nothing concerning weapons.

Something I do find interesting concerning voter ID and voter fraud is, some of the very people screaming the loudest want it have been the ones caught violating the law and committing the fraud. Interesting.

By: C.A.Jones on 3/26/13 at 8:10

Kosh III, The part of the TN Constitution that the legislature is trying to address the the part that reads "free and EQUAL". I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't want 100,000 right wing nut jobs from east TN flowing into Nashville during the local elections and overturning the Democratic majority in the Metro ranks. Why shouldn't they vote? It's free to vote right?

Rocket99, Can you not the the difference between a City or Municipality and a State? I see it like this; if a City or Municipality want to create ID, then that ID can be used to vote in an election that affects ONLY the area that issued the ID. Memphis want to issue IDs? That's fine, but it's only to be used for voting in Memphis elections, not state wide.
And Rocket, .......... Really? GOP trying to stop a problem that doesn't exist, then you mention weapons. Talk about a problem that doesn't exist!!

I personally don't see the issue. I think you should be a resident of your local area, your city, county, and state to vote in a particular election. I don't want to vote in Wilson county of Lebanon politics. That's their problem. At the same time I don't want them voting in my election. I also don't want Gerry from Krackoshia voting in my election even if he is now a resident of Dorm Hall 3 on the UT campus wearing his countries flag as a bandanna on election day. Let's keep the elections clean!!!!

By: Libertine on 3/26/13 at 9:44

Are Democrats in the Senate cool with the use of student IDs to purchase alcohol, handguns, ammo and assault rifles? If so, maybe we have a compromise?

By: courier37027 on 3/26/13 at 11:21

Once the Healthcare Act kicks in, those not having proof of insurance will be fined and/or imprisoned. To think we do not need an ID to vote, but need an insurance card to stay out of jail or not fined. Nice priorities, dems.

By: Kosh III on 3/26/13 at 12:29

We do NOT need an ID to exercise our right to vote: see the Constitution as posted above.

By: slzy on 3/26/13 at 2:38

Don t you need a voter registration card in addition to ID ?

By: govskeptic on 3/26/13 at 4:36


In reply: there is no requirement for proof of citizenship on my driver's license, but
there's a long history of having one, and I would certainly be glad to provide passport
at next renewal or if that became the law. Certain request are made of those apply
for new drivers license if they are an immigrants and there should be no problem
with that.

Hopefully you don't belong to the weak thinking such as Koch VIII that thinks anyone
present at the polls, whether they just arrived from Russia or Panama, should be able
to walk in and vote in an American election. I know of absolutely no one that wants to
deprive any eligible voter in this country their right to do so. There those of us that
don't want anyone voting that's not eligible or to be voting for someone else alive or
dead. Apparently there are many that don't honor citizenship enough to give a *am
who votes or for what reason.

By: ancienthighway on 3/26/13 at 5:08

I am in total agreement with only entitled voters voting. Since the only thing the state issues that validates that entitlement is the voter registration card, that should be the only acceptable form of identification. If it makes someone feel warm and fuzzy to have a picture ID, then add a picture to the registration card. Or accept any government or public university issued ID card.

A driver's license or ID card does nothing to verify citizenship or voter privileges. A legal immigrant can get one. A felon can get one. Any under aged kid wanting beer or cigarettes can get a fake one, as can any illegal immigrant if they so choose.

The Voter ID law should be struck down because it won't work. It doesn't verify anyone's right to vote. If there's a concern about ineligible voters on the books, then do the job that's already there and clean up the books.

By: yogiman on 3/27/13 at 5:46

Then if you don't have to identify yourself to vote, that means anyone who can get to the polls have the right to vote?

Why do you need to identify yourself for so many reasons but you shouldn't have to prove you are legally eligible to vote?

Can anyone from our neighboring states vote in Tennessee without being questioned? Why not if you don;'t have to prove who you claim to be.

That is the only reason one woman [I saw on an interview] said she voted six times.

By: yogiman on 3/27/13 at 5:49

A Constitution is good to have, Kosh III; but only if it is to be followed by law. And that includes the national Constitution.

By: ancienthighway on 3/27/13 at 6:21

yogiman, Reread and retain. The first paragraph in particular. The last sentence of the first paragraph to be specific.

If anyone from our neighboring states is eligible to vote in state, that is they are properly registered, yes they can vote if they so desire. Now if they shouldn't have been on the list to vote, that's up to that government agency that isn't doing their job to do their job.

And you close with one of your mythical internet anecdotes. You say you saw an interview, no link provided, most likely on the Internet. After all if it's on the Internet is must be true. The "Internet" said so.

And I must say, I am truly shocked. You managed to make two consecutive posts without your birther nonsense being the root of evil in Tennessee elections. Dementia must be setting in hard.

By: tomba1 on 3/28/13 at 6:50

Kosh III -
The reference to the State Constitution that you left out which defines "person entitled thereto" -

Section 1. Every person, being eighteen years of age, being a citizen of the United States, being a resident of the state for a period of time as prescribed by the General Assembly, and being duly registered in the county of residence for a period of time prior to the day of any election as prescribed by the General Assembly, shall be entitled to vote in all federal, state, and local elections held in the county or district in which such person resides. All such requirements shall be equal and uniform across the state, and there shall be no other qualification attached to the right of suffrage."

It is perfectly acceptable that anyone and everyone must be able to provide proof of their "entitlement" prior to entering the polls and exercising their "proven" right to vote. Although this article does not specify the method of proof or identification, it does stipulate that being "18 years of age", "a citizen of the US", a "resident of the State", and "duly registered in the county of residence" are ALL required for a person to be "entitled to vote in all federal, state, and local elections held in the county or district in which such person resides". So the issue here is how does one document themselves as having met ALL of these requirements?

It is paramount that these criteria be met to maintain the integrity of the voting process and protect the rights of our citizens. That is, unless, of course, you are a candidate for the office of President of the United States of America, in which case none of this matters at all.