Voter ID law upheld; library card ruled OK
Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 8:04 pm
MEMPHIS (AP) — The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the state’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at polling places and ruled Thursday that election officials must accept an ID issued by the Memphis library.
A three-judge panel of the court ruled unanimously in a case brought by the city of Memphis and two voters who lacked photo ID and cast provisional ballots during the August primary.
After hearing arguments a week ago, the court expedited the ruling because early voting for the Nov. 6 election is under way.
Attorney George Barrett, who represented those challenging the law, had argued that the photo ID requirement violates the state constitution, which lists the requirements to vote as proof of age, citizenship, residency and registration.
The opinion said the identification requirement is allowed under the state constitution and the cost of obtaining a birth certificate to get a photo ID doesn’t amount to a poll tax.
Janet Kleinfelter of the attorney general’s office had argued on behalf of the secretary of state’s office — which oversees elections — that the library ID wasn’t valid because it wasn’t issued by state government.
The court cited Tennessee case law in finding that the city of Memphis is a branch of the state, so the library card, which was redesigned this year to include a photo, is sufficient for proving identity.
“We note that the Voter Photo ID Act has created much controversy and aroused intense feelings among both its supporters and its detractors. The courts do not question the General Assembly’s motives or concern themselves with the General Assembly’s policy judgments,” the opinion said.
Published in The Messenger 10.26.12