House approves bill to require state's voters have photo ID

Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 1:31pm

Republicans in the state House approved legislation Thursday to force voters to show photo identification — a requirement that Democrats claim is aimed at building the GOP majority in the next elections.

Republicans tabled eight Democratic amendments during a long debate before voting 57-35 for the bill. The Senate already has adopted it.

Democrats contended the bill is intended to make it harder for their traditional constituencies to vote, disenfranchising poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have photo IDs.

They pointed to a formal opinion state Attorney General Bob Cooper issued this week. Because the legislation includes no provision to pay for photo IDs for voters who don’t have them, Cooper said the requirement “unduly burdens the right to vote” and “constitutes a poll tax,” a fee making voting uneconomical for poor people.

“Our oath, of course ladies and gentlemen, prevents us from voting on a bill that is unconstitutional,” House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley told the House.

Republicans said the new requirement would stop fraud at the polls. They said they hope to present legislation later this session that will provide funding to pay for photo IDs for citizens who cannot afford one. Tennessee charges $10 for an identification-only card. Democrats said about 500,000 Tennesseans of voting age have no government-issued photo ID card.

“We want everyone to vote,” Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, said. “We want everyone who is a legally registered voter to be able to do that. I just feel strongly that you ought to be who you say you are when you vote.”

Democrats offered amendments to make the photo IDs free of charge or to waive the requirement for the elderly and others.

“We’ve made it from the days of Andrew Jackson to today in Tennessee electing people without having to show a photo ID,” Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said. “I’ve looked around to see if there’s any evidence of widespread fraud by seniors in elections. I haven’t found any. No one so far in this debate has shown any evidence of any need to change the system we now have in place.”

28 Comments on this post:

By: Gary Lampman on 4/14/11 at 2:30

It is absurbed to believe that the dead have come out to vote on election night . What Debra Maggart eludes to, is polling personnel tampering with elections. My God ,their are ways to verify voters without making a elaborate ordeal at the voting booth.

Considering the appointment by the U.S. Supreme Court that had chosen George W. Bush as President in the first election. We found in Govenor Jeb Bush's state of Flordia that every Vote Did Not Count! Debating over the intent of the voter ,revealed that these votes were NOT Counted because of uncertainty! Also found during this Fiasco; if the count was within a small number of Percentage points . The remaining number of votes were NOT to be Counted.

Now Tennessee wants to ID everyone of voting age ,regardless of disability,or fraility to have Picture ID, in order to vote. It seems that the picture ID /National ID does very little to recognize residence and eligability to vote in real time. Truth is that voter ID picture cards would be beneficial if you go to the polls .However, seniors would face a real dilima in the verification process.

Still I have not seen any midnight Zombies wanting to steal elections. I'm not saying things like this do not happen but it is the living who are to blame for permitting falsification and it normally is orhcastrated by inner circles not associated with voters.

It will be the aging and the disable which would be directly affected by a higher bar that first excludes them from voting and second further complicates varification of a fallable process that is riddled with infrastructural challanges; that have yet to be addressed. There are greater greivences that have greater influences on voting outcomes, than the hearsay of the Spectors slipping by the pollsters and secretly voting .

By: govskeptic on 4/15/11 at 6:32

Not sure how the author gets that Photo ID's would be a party building plan.
As expected, Democratic Leader Fitzhugh along with "Mr. camera time" Mike
Stewart object to every bill brought by the Republicans. While Night time zombies
may not be a problem, many votes being cast by someone other than the
legitimately named individual on the voting records is certainly at least one
of our problems. If your interest are assisted by those fraudulent votes then
obviously you should oppose this bill! If you don't like having your own vote
diluted by illegal votes then you should support this bill!

By: Moonglow1 on 4/15/11 at 6:35

Moonglow1: the TN tea party Republicans (the extreme right wing) are running the show. They are faithfully following the national agenda. This legislation is moving forward in whatever state is led by a Republican governor. The only hope we have is to vote these Koch financed radicals out. Please urge the democratic party to kick off a voter ID outreach program. The extreme Republican right wing's goal is to disenfranchise those groups that generally vote for democrats. I read recently that the hispanic community is growing in TN. Since your group suffers from Republican right wing assault on immigration you should team with the democratic party to pay for I'd's. Also boycott businesses who support this extreme right wing tea party nationally led assault on voters rights. There is no history of fraud at the polls in TN. The only fraud being perpetrated on the people is by our legislators whom are supposed to be representing the people not some ideology of some rich guys like the Kochs. But then again politicians can so easily be bought & paid for & love to stay in power.

By: girliegirl on 4/15/11 at 6:48

Really? It's so easy to vote, you have no idea. Fake IDs can be purchased on Nolensville Rd, as some of my yard help have told me in years yes, "the dead shall rise" LOL

@Gary It's how my ancestors got Johnson elected back in the day. According to my father, now deceased (who may vote next year) the county in TX where my relatives ran the elections.....there were so many dead voting that year, that they declared a population explosion in that county. LMBO

By: HokeyPokey on 4/15/11 at 7:58

If you can read this...

read this:


By: pswindle on 4/15/11 at 9:22

The only way to have a clean election is to have a paper trail. All of this bull about ID is a way for the GOP to steal another election. I'm so tired of the GOP yelling, "take government out of my life, but look what they are doing. They are touching on every phrase of one's life, from collective bargaining to abortion. I do not want my rights taken away. I sure as hell hope that TN wakes up. I want my state back.

By: pswindle on 4/15/11 at 9:27

I want to know, who is Debra Maggart? Who does she thinks she is? She has a big mouth, but lacking in human spirit. She is a mean republican fsrom deep inside of her. We do not need this kind of person in the State Senate or anywhere near where laws are made.

By: Ingleweird on 4/15/11 at 10:14

TN residents:
If you want to eliminate voter fraud in TN, tell your legislators you want a verifiable paper ballot, and to vote NO on HB 0414 and SB 1805 today!

Re: your comment yesterday - the AG has already "succeeded" in declaring this law unconstitutional, but has no authority to challenge or overturn the law once it has been passed. His role is primarily as an advisor to the government and as the state's chief law enforcement officer. It is up to the courts to declare it unconstitutional. I think we all need to canvass for elderly and poor voters, drive them to the polls, and when they are denied their constitutional right to vote, file a class action lawsuit against the state on behalf of the disenfranchised voters. That is how this will be overturned (but somebody correct me if I am mistaken).

By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 10:33

Just wondering; why is anyone ashamed to be photographically identified to cast a vote in our election? Are you so ashamed of who you are and who you are voting for? Are you simply voting for someone because they are of "your" party?

Yes, legislatures of today are composed of people today whom are in the office for their own personnel gain.

That is why I use elections as a "term limit" for all offices. They should not be in there as career politicians.

By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 10:38


I remember well when LBJ "stole" the office. And I also remember Al Gore not wanting the votes from service personnel to be counted.

Hell, if he could simply carry his home state there would not have been a debate on the winner. So doesn't the Tennesseans know more about Al than the rest of the nation?

By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 10:48


If you haven't seen any "Midnight Zombies" stealing votes, maybe you should keep your eyes open. They fall in line with the rest of the election thieves.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/15/11 at 11:09

yogi, one time - one place, you wrote something to which I could agree.

So I'll cut you a little slack on one of your missives, above.

Nobody that I know of is "ashamed" of being "photographically identified to cast a vote" in elections (with the possible exception of some Muslim women and 'shame,' is probably not really part of the equation).

Try to get this through your head: it is unconstitutional to charge a citizen to exercise the right to vote. It's called a 'poll tax,' and in this case it applies to the cost (and perhaps the inconvenience) of obtaining a photo ID for purposes of voting. The other arguments for and against the Photo ID to not rise to the significance of its constitutionality.



By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 11:33

I understand, HokeyPokey,

I guess I'm just stupidly wrong thinking the way I do. And yes, I have read the Constitution, several times since I usually have one in my pocket in case I need it in an argument. Excuse me, I meant debate.

The "right to vote" had to be put in place by vote so the women in our nation, and the Negros of our nation, finally got their "right" to vote from the white men of our nation who ruled our nation back then. Excuse me, I meant "governed" our nation back then.

So, at the bottom of the well, what is wrong with everyone being required to prove they are whom they say they are to vote? Wouldn't it be great to know that wasn't a ghost voting for the "other party"?

If the women and Negroes could not vote to begin with, what makes it so illegal they should not be required to identify themselves to enter that voting booth? And I insist the white men prove their identity also, with a ugly picture... unless they are as handsome as they seem to think they are.

By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 11:41

And another point, HokeyPokey, I doubt it you were living back in the "old days" when they had a "poll tax". Yes, you used to had to pay a tax to vote in an election. That was to make damn sure only those they (meaning our government) wanted to vote.

Those brilliant men didn't think the women had enough sense to do anything except raise their kids and cook meals for them, and make their beds and keep their house clean. Smart enough to vote? Hell no, they were only stupid... like the men.

That was another point in trying to keep the Negroes from voting after the Civil War, HokeyPokey. Those brilliant white men didn't think they could convince a Negro to vote for one of them.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/15/11 at 1:23

yogi, either you're for constitutional governance of this nation, or you're not.

Can't be a cafeteria catholic on this one, I'm afraid.


And since the poll tax in the U.S. wasn't finally finished until 1966, I certainly am old enough to have been around then, although I was never subject to it.

By: yogiman on 4/15/11 at 1:53

Yes, HokeyPokey,

I am solidly for Congress to go by the "rules" of the Constitution.

I am also solidly for the person sitting in the Oval Office to be there upholding the Constitution as they swore to uphold. I am also solidly for the person sitting in that office to be sitting there legally. I am also solidly for the Congress to make damn sure he is. If they don't, they are simply the same as he in the violations of the Constitution.

By: Moonglow1 on 4/15/11 at 6:30

Moonglow1: thank you for your clarification & ideas Ingleweird.

By: HokeyPokey on 4/15/11 at 7:14

yogi, then I'm sure you won't object to a constitutional form of voter identification.


By: Liberal Bias on 4/16/11 at 4:50

Once again, the tax payers of Tennessee will be left to finance a protracted legal fight which is guaranteed to occur over the constitutionality of this measure. Past Supreme Court rulings have already established that these types of voting requirements create an undue burden on poor people lacking the resource to comply with the law. Don't agree with me? Many won't, but others will, and that's where you and I are going to pay for better minds on both sides to litigate the merits of this law in the various courts. So, once again, rather than focusing the State's limited revenues on job growth, practical healthcare, education, and efficient government, we will spend millions of dollars defending another divisive law which most likely will either be struck down or significantly modified.

Have our legislators considered what would happen if the courts uphold the law but add provisions to compel the State to provide reasonable access to these new voter ID cards? Counties and the State will then fight over the costs of compliance, and once again you and I will fund another legal fight with plenty of downside potential.

For a group of politicians elected on a platform of re-establishing a streamlined government which does little to interfere the inalienable rights of its citizens, I have yet to see any measure which has been presented during the current session which is not in direct conflict with this voter mandate. To date, we have seen debate on the merits of Sharia law, the addition of "Intelligent Design" to the science curriculum, abortion, and now voter registration. If this does not represent "activism" on the part of this legislature, I would like to see the word defined in other terms.

I want job growth, efficiency, tax reform, and freedom to practice my own beliefs without unnecessary government interference. Our elected officials need to refocus their energies on on higher priorities.

By: govskeptic on 4/16/11 at 6:23

The same "poor people" that are protected by so many of those of the liberal
persuasion, followed by many Court decisions, are those that buy
the plastic alligators and cotton candy along all the parade routes!
Some choices and priorities are just hard to explain.

By: yogiman on 4/16/11 at 6:31

Liberal Bias,

I agree with you on the fact there is debate on every issue brought forth in our nation, and our state. Please allow me to present mine on this issue.

If you have to present identity proof on enrolling a child into school or simply getting a driver's license, or several things to date.

And if our government (we) can afford to pay for illegal aliens to come into our nation and have babies, giving them citizenship (which is another subject) and paying for their medical care in this nation, why can't we pay for a cheap photo of someone the make damn sure they are who they say they are to vote for our "elected" officials?

By: Liberal Bias on 4/16/11 at 8:34


Whether this legislation is "right" is not relevant to my argument. If this measure passes, it is going to be challenged in court. Not only is the process time-consuming, more importantly, it is expensive. Our State is facing another year of revenue shortfalls and our legislature is compelled to make some difficult budgetary decisions, including lay-offs. In this economic environment, our elected officials should exclusively focus on strong fiscal management, not frivolous activism. Sensible and less invasive government formed the basis of the voter mandate during the past election cycle. This voter ID card measure is not going to attract one new businesses to Tennessee, feed any state workers facing layoffs, improve education, or reduce taxes.

If is was having difficulty providing food and shelter for my family, taking piano lessons would not be high on my list of priorities.

By: yogiman on 4/16/11 at 8:54

Being one who was raised in a depression time, Liberal Bias, and having gone through one when I was discharged from service, I know the feeling well. But having lived through those years I have found it it isn't one lawsuit in court there will be another. So, which one do you prefer?

It seems congress (state and national) feel when they are in cession they must introduce another law (basically, for some group to object to), so this issue is just another law suit to be heard in court.

I agree, the legislatures we have today aren't even similar to ones we would like to have. The USA of today is not the USA I grew up in.

By: Radix on 4/16/11 at 9:02

A great law. A no-brainer. If you want to vote, get your ID. Just like if you want to drive, get your license.

Far better to miss a few votes because of ID issues, then have entire elections tilted because of of the far left/right people with no morals.

By: Radix on 4/16/11 at 9:08

Really Mike Stewart? Fraud by seniors?! Its not the actual seniors we're worried about, its those voting using seniors name. Make ID's free for those who are economically disadvantaged. Good idea.

By: yogiman on 4/16/11 at 9:11

To further my thoughts on this subject, Liberal Bias, when this nation was founded the government was put into three branches; Executive, Legislative and Judicial. The basic thoughts was for each to keep the other two under control. Today, they are all just walking around hand in hand. And different parties? Mostly in name only.

It really hasn't been too many decades that people have made congress a job as a career.

It seems when they thought, by law, they could set their own pay scale, medical care and retirement benefits it would be great to make it a career. Wouldn't it be nice to tell your employer what he must pay you and the benefits he must provide you? (I realize, you can demand, or ask for, a pay raise and other benefits. You either get it or you don't. And usually over the incident, you can either quit or be fired. How many people like that choice?)

And a Supreme Court to determine if a law is justified according to our Constitution? What a joke in today's times. Why is there constant 5-4 decisions on 99 percent of the bills passed by the Legislature?

By: HokeyPokey on 4/17/11 at 5:49

yogi, look it up - you don't have to present a photo ID to get a driver's license in Tennessee.


By: yogiman on 4/17/11 at 7:12

True HokeyPokey, not a photo ID.

Unless the laws have changed, its just like enrolling your child into the first grade of school, you have to present a birth certificate to prove the child's age, if it is your first license in Tennessee.

Unless the laws have changed with time, my daughter had to present a birth certificate 32 years ago.