Federal judge upholds TN voter photo ID law

A federal judge in Nashville has upheld Tennessee’s voter ID law prohibiting the use of student identification cards at the polls, reports The Tennessean.

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger on Monday granted the state’s request to dismiss the case and upheld the law as constitutional. The students who brought the case in March wanted to use their school identification cards to vote and said the state denying them the ability to do that was age discrimination.

Her ruling comes after four years of debate over Tennessee’s law but does not necessarily end discussion because the ruling could be appealed.

…Trauger’s ruling is largely based on a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court case called Crawford vs. Marion County Election Board. That case upheld Indiana’s law requiring voters to show photo identification as a constitutional way to prevent voter fraud. It also said that requiring people to get state identification cards did not create enough burden for the court to overturn the law.

“Under the Tennessee Voter ID Law, everyone is required to obtain some form of acceptable photo identification in order to vote,” Trauger wrote in the memo. “Students, like everyone else, can select among a state-issued driver license, a United States passport, or the free, state-issued non-driver identification card.

“Admittedly, allowing students to use these cards (student IDs) would make it easier for them to vote, but it does not automatically follow that not allowing them to use their student identification cards imposes a severe burden or otherwise abridges their right to vote.”

The case was filed by the Fair Elections Legal Network and the Nashville firm of Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison on behalf of a group of students from the Nashville Student Organizing Committee and seven students from Tennessee State University, Belmont University and Fisk University. Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins were named as defendants.