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Senate, House in stalemate on voter IDs

Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 11:27 AM

The state House and Senate are at a stalemate about college student photo identification cards.

Senate Bill 125, sponsored by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, would make college student identification cards valid for voting, while simultaneously banning out-of-state photo identification cards, as well as photo identification cards issued by city and county governments.

The Senate approved the bill 21-8.

House members this week also approved the corresponding House Bill 229, but with amendments to the Senate version.

While one amendment simply corrected a typographical error, the key amendment prohibited the use of college student photo identification cards.

“They 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.”

Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, said he was fairly comfortable with the House bill, but he had reservations about the ban on out-of-state IDs.

He said some counties adjacent to the Georgia border allow people to vote in local elections as long as they own property in the district, even if those people don’t actually live in the district.

Under this bill, voters legally eligible to vote in those local elections would not be able to vote with their Georgia-issued identification cards.

“I don’t want to make it harder for anybody to vote,” said Pody.

Lynn also said that was a concern, and she planned to discuss the issue with Ketron.

“With this bill, we are trying to model the Indiana legislation that went all the way to the Supreme Court and was found to be constitutional,” said Lynn. “We don’t know how they handled that situation, but perhaps in Indiana they don’t have that situation.”

SB125 closely mirrors Indiana’s existing photo identification law for voting, but the House’s amendment banning college student photo IDs veers from the model.

In Indiana, photo IDs from state-run colleges and universities are valid for voting purposes.

Lynn said since the Senate and House bills no longer match, they will have to go to a conference committee to reach an agreement.

“We feel very strongly, the House does, that that’s the way we want the bill,” said Lynn.

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