The city of Memphis has cashed in on their promise to challenge Tennessee's newly minted voter ID law.
Daphne Turner-Golden, a Memphis resident, and the city of Memphis sued Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins for disallowing library cards as an acceptable form of photo ID.
According to the Memphis Daily News, Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton Jr. and city attorneys were simply waiting for a citizen to be affected by the law before they filed suit.
Memphis enacted a program earlier this year to help citizens obtain library cards with photos on them to serve as acceptable forms of ID. The city of Memphis believes the cards serve as acceptable identification from an “entity of the state,” as spelled out by the new law.
But Goins declared on July 10 that the cards were not valid forms of identification.
“The new library photo ID card is the City of Memphis’ response to meet these regrettable efforts head-on and to make the vote accessible to all citizens,” Memphis city attorney Herman Morris wrote in a media release.
“It is regrettable that those charged in carrying out our elections seem set on denying the opportunity to the citizens to use this additional equally legal, more convenient and accessible means of satisfying the new photo ID requirement.”
Turner-Golden attempted to use her library card during early voting on Monday and was denied by election officials. Memphis estimates that approximately 990 of its citizens currently have a library card as their only photo ID.
“The legislature clearly intended that only state or federal photo IDs can be used, which prevents us from accepting county or city IDs,” Hargett said. “Our Division of Elections remains ready to assist any voter with questions about how they may obtain a free photo ID for voting from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.”
An injunction hearing was scheduled for this morning in Judge Kevin Sharp's courtroom at the federal courthouse in Nashville.
Nashville civil rights attorney George Barrett's firm Barrett Johnston LLC is representing Memphis and Turner-Golden.
An temporary restraining order hearing was held Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp's courtroom at the federal courthouse in Nashville. Judge Aleta Trauger was originally assigned the case but couldn't hear the restraining order argument this morning because she was in the middle of a trial.
Sharp declined to issue the temporary restraining order, but Trauger agreed to an injunction hearing for next Thursday (the day of the election), according to attorney Doug Johnston. In the meantime, Memphis voters with library cards can cast ballots provisionally. If Trauger issues an injunction, provisional ballots would be counted.