A Senate vote on legislation that makes college student identification cards valid for voting was halted Thursday after Sen. Stacey Campfield raised objections, saying the cards can be easily faked and are issued to people who are not citizens of the United States.
“They’re easy to forge,” said Campfield in Senate floor debate. “Possibly, in my younger days I might have known a person or two myself who had a falsified college ID.”
Even a valid college ID, Campfield said, opens a door for fraudulent voting since foreign students can get them.
“You don’t even have to be a resident of this country to be get a college ID,” said Campfield, a Knoxville Republican whose district includes part of the University of Tennessee campus.
A vote on the bill (SB125) was postponed until next Thursday by the sponsor, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro, after Campfield’s critical questioning of the measure, which makes several revisions to the state’s law requiring a photo ID issued by the state or federal government for voting.
The law as it now stands excludes student ID, though a faculty ID is considered valid. Current law also excludes identification cards issued by city and county governments, though the state Supreme Court last fall issued a temporary order that allowed library cards issued by Memphis to be used for voting. The court has yet to issue a final ruling on the overall validity of such cards.
Ketron’s bill, however, includes a provision specifically targeted at the Memphis library cards, saying they – and other library cards – cannot be used for voting.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, tried to delete that provision via amendment to make the cards valid.
Kyle said the refusing to accept the library cards was to “imply that local government can’t be trusted” and that “we know more than our local officials.”
Ketron opposed the amendment and it was tabled, or killed, on a 24-8 vote before Campfield began his speech. When he did, Campfield said there is “no difference” between a library card and a college student ID. Allowing either, he said, opens the door to “more problems” with voter fraud and would be a return to pre-2011 days.
Campfield also questioned whether temporary ID “stickers” issued to visitors at the Legislative Plaza and state Capitol building would be valid for voting under the bill. The stickers, part of a new security system, have a picture of the person – if the individual has any sort of photo ID to show officers when going through a metal detector – and his or her name. An officer on duty Thursday said a library card or student ID card would be accepted for entry and issuance of a “sticker.”
As a state-issued ID, Campfield said it appears the stickers would be valid for voting. “Good point,” responded Ketron, who then agreed to delay a final vote on the bill to consider Campfield’s objections.