- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Appeals court to take up voter ID case
Oct 12, 2012 4:00 pm
The Tennessee Court of Appeals will hear a challenge to the new photo identification law soon, but at least one state lawmaker said he stands behind the law.
The court on Thursday set arguments in the case for Oct. 18, the day after early voting begins for the general election. The order says the case is being expedited because of the Nov. 6 election.
The city of Memphis and two residents are fighting the law, claiming it will disenfranchise nearly 400,000 people who don't have government-issued photo IDs, including more than 100,000 voters over the age of 60. Their lawsuit also seeks to force the state to accept photo ID issued by the Memphis library system.
But state Rep. Mark Pody, R-Lebanon, said Thursday the law is set up so that every vote counts as it should.
“We wanted to be fair to everyone, regardless of age, race, creed, whatever,” Pody said. “We want to make it where every vote counts and give everyone assurance of that. We want to encourage everyone to vote. We want to make sure that it’s convenient, equitable and free.”
Pody said he’s heard no complaints from constituents in Wilson County that the law passed during the last legislative session disenfranchises anyone.
“In Wilson County, they have been extremely happy and have asked, ‘Why haven’t we done this before?’” Pody said. “…If you go check out a video, you need a photo ID. If you go to the library, you need a photo ID. If you go to college, you need a photo ID. Even at the Democratic National Convention, you need a photo ID to get inside.
“We wanted to make it as easy as we possibly could and at no cost to any citizen in Tennessee.”
Pody said he was in favor of the new law after seeing evidence of voter fraud in Tennessee, but he said he would support whatever ruling the court makes.
“We believe we were shown evidence where people were voting when they shouldn’t have been voting,” he said. “Every vote counts, and it needed to be protected.
“I am obviously in a situation where I will support whatever the decision of the court should it deem this unconstitutional.”
Attorneys for the city of Memphis filed the request Oct. 3 with the Tennessee Court of Appeals. It asks for an emergency appeal, and lawyers hope for an expedited ruling.
The appeal was filed a week after Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Carol McCoy upheld the constitutionality of the new statute, saying voting procedures have evolved over the years, and the legislature can enact laws that secure what she termed "the purity of the ballot box."
Memphis officials and two residents who are co-plaintiffs claim the new requirement is a violation of the state constitution, which states the requirements to vote are proof of legal age, residency and registration.
In its request to the appellate court, the plaintiffs further ask that if the court does not strike down the photo provision, that judges rule separately on whether photo IDs provided by the public library system in Memphis can be used to vote.
“Each library system, county-to-county, may use a different system,” Pody said. “We need a system statewide that uses the same [methods].”
In arguments before the lower court two weeks ago, the plaintiffs argued that standards for obtaining the library cards are more stringent than the requirements for obtaining several photo IDs issued by other states. Those out-of-state IDs, including Alabama boating licenses, are deemed acceptable for voting under the state law.
Early voting in the general election begins Wednesday.
Courts in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin have blocked similar laws at least for this year. Mississippi is also delaying its voter ID law.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report