NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Department of Safety will open eight driver service centers Saturday to help voters who need photo identification cards before the Tuesday general election.
Centers will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Chattanooga, Cookeville, Dresden, Jackson, Johnson City, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville. Services that day will be limited to issuing free photo IDs to registered voters and converting non-photo driver’s licenses to a version with a picture.
A release from the Safety Department said the centers were chosen based on population and response to Saturday openings before the August primary election.
As of Monday, Tennessee had issued more than 24,000 photo IDs to voters, who this year are required to show photo identification at polling places.
Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security: http://www.tn.gov/safety
The Tennessean has a story of a Nashville woman’s efforts to get a photo ID for voting. Cora Beach, 56, who lives in public housing in East Nashville and requires regular dialysis for kidney failure, has so far been unsuccessful. On her initial trip to a Davidson County driving center, Beach lacked a required birth certificate to prove citizenship. She quickly fixed that by having one sent from her native Selma, Ala.
But Beach was turned away again last week and a third time Tuesday — at separate driving centers — even though she displayed her birth certificate, apartment rental lease and Social Security, Medicaid and Davidson County voting cards.
Those documents more than met the state’s requirement of two documents to prove residency. But there’s one final document Beach must produce, and, so far, she hasn’t been able to: her two marriage licenses, including one from Toledo, Ohio.
…Michael Hogan, director of the Department of Safety’s Driver Service Division, said driving center workers are following the correct protocol in Beach’s situation by trying to match her birth certificate to her proof of Tennessee residency.
“Those documents have to line up,” he said. “What happens is, particularly with women, whenever they marry, their legal name is now the name of their husband.”
Hogan says marriage certificates, divorce decrees or certified court orders are used to “bridge that gap” of identity from a maiden name to current last name
Beach, who claims on one occasion she waited at the driving center for two hours only to be turned down, described her ordeal in one word: “hell.”
State officials on Friday appealed a Court of Appeals ruling that declares Memphis Public Library photo ID cards are acceptable for voting by properly registered voters and asked for a stay of the Thursday order.
From Richard Locker’s report: The state Supreme Court later Friday agreed to expedite the state’s application to appeal and instructed attorneys for the the city of Memphis to respond to the state’s appeal by noon Monday. The high court’s order was silent, however, on the state’s request to stay the appeals court ruling.
The appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court by the state attorney general’s office contends that the appeals court erred in declaring that the city of Memphis and the two Memphis voters who were co-plaintiffs in the case had standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s voter-photo ID act.
The appeal also contests the ruling that the city and its public library are “entities of this state” under provisions of the act that require voters to use photo IDs issued by the state, state agencies and “entities of this state.”
The Court of Appeals ruling “has essentially changed the rules on what type of identification is needed to vote in the midst of the election process,” the state says. “The Court of Appeals decision has cast uncertainty on that process on the eve of the November election.”
Thursday’s appeals court ruling upheld the constitutionality of Tennessee’s voter-photo ID law but also ordered acceptance of the Memphis library cards for voting by registered voters in Shelby County. The state contends that only state- and federal-issued ID cards — like driver’s licenses — are acceptable.
After Thursday’s ruling, state officials notified the Shelby County Election Commission to let registered voters who present the library ID cards to vote — but only on provisional ballots that may or may not be counted on election day. Provisional ballots are paper ballots that voters fill out and then place in a sealed envelope before handing to election officials. Whether they will be counted or not depends on the outcome of the case.
But Memphis City Atty. Herman Morris said Friday properly qualified voters with the library photo cards should be allowed to vote regularly, on touch-screen ballots, as other voters.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — After winning a ruling that upheld Tennessee’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, election officials said they will ask the state Supreme Court to step in because the decision also ordered them to accept an ID issued by the Memphis public library.
The Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the law was constitutional but it also said the library card qualified as a government-issued photo ID. The court issued a separate order requiring election officials to immediately accept the Memphis library cards.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett praised much of the ruling even as he announced the decision to file an appeal on Friday.
“They’ve called it a burden on voting and once again the judiciary has said not it’s not,” Hargett said.
The city of Memphis and two voters who lacked photo ID and cast provisional ballots during the August primary sued in both federal and state court to stop the law that took effect this year.
News release from House Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–Representative Debra Maggart (R–Hendersonville), who authored the voter ID requirement in Tennessee, today released the following statement on today’s Tennessee Court of Appeal decision:
“While I am encouraged our law was ruled constitutional, the fact the Court decided to add to it is disappointing.
“Since 2006, this legislation has been a priority of mine. I have worked with my colleagues to develop a law that is both constitutional and narrow in scope that protects the integrity of the ballot box here in Tennessee.
“Not only has the Court gone beyond the clear intent of the law by allowing library cards, it has also created an exception for the city of Memphis that falls below the standard for the rest of Tennessee. This is the definition of ‘legislating from the bench’ and, frankly, is unacceptable.
“Tennesseans overwhelmingly support a common sense photo identification requirement that ensures the person issued the ID is, in fact, a citizen of Tennessee. Since the library system is not equipped to verify an individual’s legal status, the Court has purposefully undermined the will of Tennesseans with today’s decision.”
— News release from Tennessee Citizen Action:
Nashville, Tenn. (October 25, 2012) — Mary Mancini, Executive Director of Tennessee Citizen Action, released the following statement regarding the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling on the Photo ID to Vote law.
“This is good news! The ruling clearly states that city-issued library cards lawfully fulfill the requirements of the photo ID to vote. It should send a clear message to the Tennessee State Legislature that their attempts last session to limit allowable IDs to only a handful was both restrictive and excessive.
Citizen Action looks forward to working with the Tennessee General Assembly next session to amend the Photo ID to Vote law to allow other Metro and city-issued photo IDs to fulfill the requirements of the law thereby removing additional barriers to the ballot box making it much easier for more hardworkingTennesseans to vote.”
The state Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of Tennessee’s voter-photo identification law today but also ordered that new photo library cards issued by the Memphis Public Library be accepted for voting by otherwise qualified, registered voters.
From the Commercial Appeal report: The order is at least a partial victory for the City of Memphis, which originally filed a lawsuit in July asking that its new photo library cards be accepted for voting purposes by qualified registered voters. The city filed the lawsuit after the Shelby County Election Commission denied the cards as unacceptable under the law because they are not issued by a “state entity.”
The Court of Appeals ruling says:
“In light of the fact that the period of early voting for the November 6 election is currently underway, Defendants (Secretary of State Tre) Hargett and (State Election Coordinator Mark) Goins are hereby ordered to immediately advise the Shelby County Election Commission to accept photo library cards issued by the City of Memphis Public Library as acceptable ‘evidence of identification’ as provided at Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A).”
…The city and its two co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit, two Memphis registered voters who lack voter photo identification acceptable by the state, had also sought to have the state statute declared unconstitutional on the grounds that it adds another “qualification” for voting in Tennessee beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution: 18 years of age, a citizen of United States, a resident of Tennessee and properly registered in the voting precinct.”
But the court ruled that the law, approved in 2011 and effective with this year’s elections, is constitutional.
Camille Burge’s professors at Vanderbilt University can use their university ID to vote. But Burge, a graduate student here, can’t use hers, report The Tennessean. “You can use your ID and I can’t?” Burge said. “I just don’t understand it.”
Burge and dozens of others gathered outside the Davidson County Election Commission on Saturday to rally in support of students’ rights to vote. Organized by Operation W.A.V.E. (Wake Up And Vote Early), those at the rally hoped to raise awareness about the state’s new voter ID law and encourage students to vote.
Of particular concern for students like Burge, is the law that doesn’t allow student IDs to be a valid form of identification while voting. Philippe Andal, student government president at Fisk University, said that the laws are purposely designed to suppress the votes of students, the poor, minorities and the elderly – all of whom may find it difficult to provide acceptable forms of ID.
“The new photo ID law is targeted directly at college students and other disenfranchised groups,” Andal said. “Everyone should care, because if one group is being disenfranchised, who’s to say their group isn’t next?”
—Note: My understanding of the photo ID law is that the ID must be issued by state or federal government. Thus, a Vanderbilt ID for faculty be no more valid than a student ID.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Attorneys for two Memphis voters told a panel of the state Appeals Court they should strike down a new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls because it disenfranchises voters.
Two Memphis residents who lack state-issued photo identification say their votes in the August primary were not counted. Attorneys at an Appeals Court hearing Thursday argued that the new law violates the state constitution, which lists the requirements to vote as proof of age, citizenship, residency and registration.
Attorneys for the state argued the new law is not burdensome and is a reasonable way to ensure the integrity of the ballot box. They said that high voter turnout since the law was put in place in January shows that it does not discourage voters.
On behalf of the City of Memphis, civil rights attorney George Barrett Wednesday filed an appeal to the Tennessee Court of Appeals of a recent state court decision that found Tennessee’s voter identification law to be constitutional, according to the Tennessean. His application for emergency appeal asks state officials to remove government-issued photo ID as a voting requirement in the November election. The appeal requests a hearing no later than Oct. 12. Tennessee’s early voting starts Oct. 17.
Barrett has been at war for months with state officials over the state’s voter ID law, which took effect this year. He has called the law “an unconstitutional impediment on the right to vote.”
Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled last week that neither of the two Shelby County voters Barrett represented were harmed by the voter ID law, so the question of whether the law is constitutional or not could not go forward.
The lawsuit followed a ruling by a federal judge that Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell, the two voters, could not use library identification as valid voter IDs.
A Republican War on the Poor?
From Wendi C. Thomas’ Sunday column: This isn’t about fraud. What the right wants to prevent is a repeat of 2008, when a record turnout of young people, Latinos and black voters sent the county’s first black president to the White House.
In response, the GOP rammed through voter ID laws and ones to restrict early voting. It’s the party’s pitiful concession that its platform doesn’t attract and often repels black, Latino and young voters.
If you can’t convince ’em, keep ’em away.
Tennessee’s constitution has but four official requirements to vote: You must be 18, a U.S. citizen, a resident of Tennessee and registered in the county where you live.
In the margins, the GOP has added this: The poor need not apply. For Driving, No Photo Required
Sam Venable’s Sunday column concerns a 70-year-old woman who has lots of photo ID — except on her brand new driver’s license, sent as a replacement for her former license that did have a photo. Said Stallard: “Imagine my surprise when I received a blank license with the following statement printed on its face — ‘Valid Without Photo.’
Yep, the sovereign state of Tennessee doesn’t mind if Patricia Stallard and others in her age group hit the highways without photographic proof of who they are. But voting, as this demographic group is wont to do, is another matter. And It Helps Inspire Apathy?
Scott McNutt touches on the topic in the course of a satire assault on voter apathy in Knox County: Sue Pressed, an 87-year-old retiree from Inskip, credited Republican lawmakers’ voter-ID laws for helping her resist the temptation to vote.
“I haven’t had a photo ID since I retired from driving a bus 20 years ago,” she explained. “As long as I could vote with my voter registration card, I had this irresistible compulsion to go cast a ballot. But now that I have to prove I’m me to exercise my right to suffrage, I’m cured of that urge, and I want to thank Republicans for that.”