A new state law restricts the types of photo identification voters can use when casting their ballots.
Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill aimed at prohibiting the use of photo library cards and other forms of city and county identifications for voting purposes.
Lawmakers crafted Senate Bill 125, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, after Memphis issued photo library cards so those cards could be used as identification for voting.
Fearing that Memphis residents without driver’s licenses would be unable to vote, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton asked the library to develop photo IDs that would qualify under the 2011 Voter ID law’s provision allowing photo IDs issued by “an entity of the state.”
When election officials ruled the library cards didn’t qualify, the city sued the state, arguing that Memphis is “an entity of the state” and therefore the cards are valid.
A trial judge in Nashville disagreed, but the state Court of Appeals sided with the city, and the case was argued before the Tennessee Supreme Court
The newly signed bill, however, effectively overrules the court’s decision
The new law also further restricts permitted forms of identification to exclude out-of-state photo identification.
The bill as it was originally drafted would have allowed state-funded colleges’ student identification cards to be used for voting, but the senate eventually dropped that provision after House lawmakers refused to pass a House version that included the provision.
“[House lawmakers] did not feel there was sufficient due diligence to know that the student actually is who they say they are, and they also felt that the college IDs are pretty easy to duplicate,” said the House bill’s sponsor, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt-Juliet. “Some [committee members] had stories where there were folks around when they went to college selling duplicate IDs that looked just like the real thing.”
– The Commercial Appeal in Memphis contributed to this report via MCT.