Memphis sues state over photo ID law, use of library cards

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 11:25am

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.

29 Comments on this post:

By: chamboyoyo on 7/25/12 at 10:21

That is kind of funny because Memphis is the most corrupt city in TN and one of the most corrupt in the nation. If they can't beat you they will cheat you. Gotta get those voters in though so they can vote for their boy Obama and other most likely dishonest candidates.

By: JohnGalt on 7/25/12 at 11:04

Obviously the Memphis dodos (is that an oxymoron?) don't understand that acceptable photo IDs are issued by government agencies based on supporting evidence such as a birth certificate. What proof does a library require to put your name and picture on a card? Sheeeesh.

By: pswindle on 7/25/12 at 11:26

It amazes me how far right TN has become. TN has lost all moral fiber and and is becoming the laughing stock of the nation. The two post above this one is the perfect example. Are you saying that all that vote for President Obama is dishonest? How could anyone be more dishonest than Bush/Cheney and the most dishonest of all is Romney.

By: yogiman on 7/25/12 at 11:32

Some pretty strong accusations on individuals, pswindle. What are you offering as proof? Or don't you have any and are just making an idiotic claim?

By: pswindle on 7/25/12 at 11:44

Romney distroyed every piece of info in everything that he had an interest in.; Govenor, Bain, olympics and all of his overseas interest. This is against the law. Everything must be kept for historical findings. Bush/Cheney, where would you start? Romney is just over the edge. He acts sissy, crazy and out of touch.

By: jthordsen on 7/25/12 at 11:51

Why not just obey the law and get a valid photo id? Any CITIZEN can get one. I could care less who someone wants to vote for.

From what I can see, the only reason for this high resistance to get a real government-issued photo id is fraud.

Given Memphis' history, both past and current, this is not surprising.

Get an legal ID and vote for the candidate of your choice. This is a non-issue for legal citizens voting lawfully.

By: gm0168 on 7/25/12 at 12:33

The comments to this article are hilarious......
1) Like Nashville isn't so corrupt? I can start with Bill Boner and work my way up through the present John Arriola scandal. Give me a break......get off your pedestal
2) Why is it that voting for Obama means you are dishonest? How "righteous" of you to think that. Why is Romney the better candidate? I'm voting for Obama, and I'm not a dishonest person
3) If Memphis wins this lawsuit, and they should, Nashville will be the first to jump on that bandwagon of letting citizens use library cards as ID to vote. Bank on that.....
4) Chamboyoyo, you need to drop the "chambo" part of your user name....

By: jthordsen on 7/25/12 at 1:07

The question was never answered - "Why not just obey the law and get a valid photo id? "

By: Capiscan on 7/25/12 at 1:46

J: I can answer that.

1) Many of our senior citizens do not have their picture on their DL (its not required).
2) Not every county in TN has a DMV
3) The DMV is open from 8 to 5:30. Working hours or duty hours if you prefer.
4) When I went to the DMV to get a new license after my military service, I had to prove I had been in the military before they would take the military designation off. No joke. It took them 3 hours to figure this out.
5) To get a picture ID, some people will have to take a day off of work to go to the nearest DMV. Not everyone has transportation, not everyone can afford to take the time off of work, not everyone can get the time off of work, and not everyone has the $20 that the ID costs.
6) You only get a free ID if you sign an affadavit stating that you have never had a state ID or DL before. If you have one and it expired/got lost/got stolen - tough noogies.
7) Not everyone can lay their hands on their birth certificate. Do you know how much it costs to get a replacement? Do you know what is required to get a replacement - that's right a picture ID.
I'm a relatively affluent person. I have each of the IDs that can be used at the voting booth. And I'm not about to screw somebody over just because they are poor, are disorganized or lack resources.

By: Capiscan on 7/25/12 at 1:51

@John Galt: From 2006 to 2009, I worked at a State building and was issued a State employee ID, so I could get in and out of the building. I was issued that ID with no supporting documentation. I no longer work in that building but I can still use that ID at the voting booth if I choose to do so. A library card is no more or less valid than the state employee ID

By: Capiscan on 7/25/12 at 1:53

@Yogiman: For proof, I give you the Gateway sexual activity bill co-sponsored by John Gotto. Some states are working on attracting jobs to their states but not our legislature. Nope, gotta nip that handholding in the bud.

By: CrimesDown on 7/25/12 at 2:00

gm0168....I agree with you that Nashville is corrupt. It seems odd that you use Democrats to prove your point though. Boner and Arriola are both Democrats. Memphis is a Deocratic stronghold. Other than actually proving you are who you say you are, how much harder could it be to get a state photo I.D. than it is to get a library card?

I disagree that Memphis will win this lawsuit though. I think it stands very little chance.

By: JeffF on 7/25/12 at 2:39

Many of the reasons for why it is tough to get a state issued ID are the reason it is laughable that someone would expect a library card to mean something. I would guess librarians are not so strict in making sure someone is who they say they are if they are not asking for birth certificates or other significant personal identifiers.

Our official motto is not "In Librarians We Trust, here's an ID card" I will bet Memphis police were not accepting library cards for citations. This is the city that thought building a minor league park downtown was a good idea and watched it cruise into receivership.

By: JeffF on 7/25/12 at 2:40

Maybe they can talk the State Department into issuing passports based entirely on their library cards or allow liquor stores to check library cards to make sure they are not selling to minors.

By: not_guilty on 7/25/12 at 3:07

The photo identification requirement is the twenty-first century version of the poll tax.

Issuance or renewal of documents such as a driver's license typically comes with a fee. Even where the fee is waived and photo identification such as a driver's license is issued without charge, the supporting documentation required to obtain such an ID is costly and, in many cases, difficult or impossible to obtain.

This is a naked attempt to suppress voters who are statistically likely to vote for Democrats. And it is despicable. Why do Republicans fear voter participation?

By: K8_Bowman on 7/25/12 at 4:44

WTG Capiscan!

Often people don't realize that just because its easy for them, doesn't make it as easy to others. There are a number of legal TN citizens, who have voted for years but do not have birth certificates because hospital births weren't a requirement. Women especially can find it difficult to obtain documents when utilities and other things are in their married name or spouse's name. Some rural areas have lost records or they've been destroyed by fire, tornado, etc.

I'm not even elderly and because the town I was born in (in another state) has since incorporated, the county records cannot locate my birth certificate. I've paid fees and they searched for more than 4 months without success. My birth parents and grandparents are deceased. My living relatives, still in that state, were young teens when I was born. What options do I have...none--there's no one who knows the doctor's name when I was born. How could I possibly know that? Luckily I have a valid drivers license, but if I lose that privelige (say for health reasons later in life) I'm screwed. But yet I'm an active, legally registered voter and citizen.

Something to think about: If expired and out of state issued photo ID's are accepted, what's to keep individuals from having multiple registrations in different counties and/or even different districts? The photo ID does NOT reduce the potential for fraud. Put the burden back where it belongs: on the Election Commission to VERIFY voter registration and purge records in a timely manner. They have the funds, the manpower, and the access to databases to locate duplicate registrations.

*Kate*

By: Moonglow1 on 7/26/12 at 6:22

Moonglow1: It is about time someone files a lawsuit to maintain the right to vote.

The right to vote is being stripped away from US citizens by the Koch brothers and their 1 percent friends who view "the masses" as their slaves and as an irritation to be tolerated.

TN has decided (with a push from the NRA) that voters who carry the TN Handgun Permit can vote, but those literate citizens whom have library cards cannot vote.

What lunacy!!

Carry and vote. Read and no vote.

This is the USA in the 21st century.

Groups like The Koch's, the NRA, The Teas are all stripping citizens of the hard fought right to vote.

By: Moonglow1 on 7/26/12 at 6:35

Moonglow1: To Jeff, yeah To Carry Permits we Trust. So did those victims in Aurora, CO

As you know, there has been one or two cases of voter fraud.

This "law" is a blatant attempt to suppress the rights of our fellow citizens to participate in our democratic process.

Get a grip people!!

Your rights are being taken away by idiots: the 1 percent who want to re-shape the USA to their greedy ends. Idiots: no library card-yes for Carry Permit.

This could be the basis of a comedy, but unfortunately it is real. And happening now. To US citizens. To h@ll with Iraqi's voting. Why not let US citizen's vote. Citizens with despot rulers can vote. But not citizens of the USA. Oh no, not without your Carry Permit ID.

Thank the NRA
Thank The Koch's
Thank Haslam
Thank the Republican Party
Thank the Tea Nuts

Thank them all for suppressing YOUR right to vote: the poor, the middle class, the almost 1 percent, your voice does not count in America today.

By: govskeptic on 7/26/12 at 7:13

One can bet our largest and most politically corrupt city set up this Library
Card system just to circumvent the new state law and serve their purpose
versus Good Voting Citizenship! The opposition to these photo ID's find
it acceptable for your legal vote to be cancelled out by the vote of a Dead
person or imposters voting several times, but don't bother anyone over
getting a free photo ID. What are those so very scared of is very relevant.

By: Left-of-Local on 7/26/12 at 9:17

WAY TO GO, MEMPHIS!

The city that made history in stopping I-40 from trampling on the poor does it again. THANK YOU for standing up to this effort to suppress the vote of suppressed populations.

They tried to play ball within the rules and the Big Brother GOP Right Wing Neocon Greedy Zealot Tea Baggers still could not be pleased. Screw them. Hope they lose and embarrassing legal battle.

Pass the BBQ sauce. I'm gonna settle in and watch the fight.

By: NewYorker1 on 7/26/12 at 9:48

What if a person, like myself, moves to TN from a city like New York where having a car/Driver's license in not needed. I didn't own a vehicle until I move out of New York. I had a passport with my photo on it, but that's because I travelled internationally with my parents at a young age. So, what if a person moves to TN from New York City that doesn't have a DL or doesn't have a Passport, what other form of ID should they have in order to vote?

By: K8_Bowman on 7/26/12 at 10:42

@goveskeptic:

If the Election Commission did the job that our taxes PAY them to do: remove registration of the deceased, ineligible felons, illegal aliens, etc. WE wouldn't have to foot the bill and hassle of obtaining an ID. Requiring the photo ID will NOT reduce potential voter fraud because:
1-Felons can obtain photo IDs and still vote so long as their voter registration hasn't been purged,
2-Fake ID's are fairly easy to come by (just ask HS/college students or research news of businesses found to have unknowingly hired illegal workers) so its still possible to vote under the registration of the deceased. Purge deceased voter registrations so individuals can't use fake id to vote. (Somehow I can't imagine folks hanging around for someone to die, then hurriedly making it to the polls JUST to vote. But I'll humor those who believe this happens,
3-Expired IDs allow an individual to continue to vote in various districts so long as their voter registrations haven't been updated/purged.

Those are just a sampling of the possibilites and the common denominator is out of date voter registrations. My biggest beef with this is that our lawmakers thought it best to dump responsibility on US and oblivious to the consequences, rather than first make appropriate improvements within and hold the Election Commission responsible.

*Kate*

By: Kosh III on 7/26/12 at 12:04

From what I can see, the only reason for this high resistance to get a real government-issued photo id is fraud.

Given Memphis' history, both past and current, this is not surprising.

Really? Please cite specific convictions for voter fraud committed in Memphis in the past 20 years. Who was convicted; how long idd they go to jail; how did they do it.

Not rightwing propaganda but facts.

By: pswindle on 7/26/12 at 1:07

Congratulations Memphis! I'm glad some city had the guts to stand up to the GOP controlled state.

By: budlight on 7/26/12 at 1:08

pswindle on 7/25/12 at 12:26
It amazes me how far right TN has become. TN has lost all moral fiber and and is becoming the laughing stock of the nation. The two post above this one is the perfect example. Are you saying that all that vote for President Obama is dishonest? How could anyone be more dishonest than Bush/Cheney and the most dishonest of all is Romney.

swindle, I do not care who people vote FOR; but a library card is not a valid state id.

I think that valid id's are not that hard to understand. In other words, if you are not here legally, you should not vote -- or get benefits paid for by U.S. taxpayer citizens.

Most everyone can get a valid id, if they are valid, themselves.

By: PKVol on 7/26/12 at 3:12

To respond to a few inaccuracies here.
1) A legal photo id, even if expired, is still valid for voting - the logic is that if it was issued as a valid document at the time it was issued, becoming expired doesn't change the identity of the person holding it.
2) Birth records are maintained by states, not local or county governments.
3) When someone submits a voter registration request, they have to declare if they are registered anywhere else, failure to do so is committing voter fraud. When this is properly done, the election commission notifies the previous state / county of the new registration so the voter can be removed from that jurisdiction's registration.
4) Federal election law requires that a person who files a voter registration by mail, must submit a valid photo id the first time they vote and the person must vote in person, not absentee.
5) To attempt to vote in more than one jurisdiction is a felony, to fraudulently vote in a precinct where you do not reside is a felony (how many people go back to the voting location of where they used to live and lie about where they live to vote there because they thought they couldn't vote because they had failed to update their registration?) In fact, this process is so simple, al a person has to do on election day is to show up at the polling place for where they currently live and complete a change of address and then they can legally and non-fraudulently vote.
6) The inconveniece to obtain the necessary id to vote should be gladly borne to exercise the right to vote. With nearly two years to become compliant, the excuse that "I didn't know", "I didn't have time", "it was too inconvenient", etc. just don't hold water anymore. Where did the person in Ms. Daphne Turner-Golden have to go to get the library card?

By: not_guilty on 7/26/12 at 5:26

What part of poll tax do you folks not understand?

By: K8_Bowman on 7/26/12 at 6:54

@By: PKVol

To clarify and/or correct some of the info you posted:

"3) When someone submits a voter registration request, they have to declare if they are registered anywhere else, failure to do so is committing voter fraud. When this is properly done, the election commission notifies the previous state / county of the new registration so the voter can be removed from that jurisdiction's registration."

True, and that same application requires the individual to also declare that they: are not a convicted felon, and/or a citizen of the US. As long as the Election Commission fails to follow-up on applications, their names will be added to the registration and they will be allowed to vote. At some point the Election Commission could discover that the indiv was not eligible to vote, however it will be too late to do anything about their vote/votes. Since how one votes is not connected to their name, there is no way to remove their vote/votes. So the photo ID requirement still does NOTHING to prevent voter fraud.

5) To attempt to vote in more than one jurisdiction is a felony, to fraudulently vote in a precinct where you do not reside is a felony (how many people go back to the voting location of where they used to live and lie about where they live to vote there because they thought they couldn't vote because they had failed to update their registration?) In fact, this process is so simple, al a person has to do on election day is to show up at the polling place for where they currently live and complete a change of address and then they can legally and non-fraudulently vote.

To "UPDATE" one's registration means they still live within the same county. The process is simple to update and they could show up to do so on election day, but will have to complete an affidavit first. Moves to a different county are not considered "updates."

"6) The inconveniece to obtain the necessary id to vote should be gladly borne to exercise the right to vote. With nearly two years to become compliant, the excuse that "I didn't know", "I didn't have time", "it was too inconvenient", etc. just don't hold water anymore. Where did the person in Ms. Daphne Turner-Golden have to go to get the library card? "

I agree that ignorance shouldn't be an excuse but there are reasons why an older, legally registered and active voter might not be able to obtain a photo ID. I listed them before. Some of the documents required for the photo ID were never required before and may not be located for a number of reasons. A very simple solution would be to grandfather in those elderly and actively voting individuals.

*Kate*

By: Moonglow1 on 7/27/12 at 7:10

Moonglow1: Dumb nut Tea Nuts.

There have been ONE or TWO incidences of voter fraud over like 30 years.

This is voter suppression or poll tax.

Why is the NRA Carry Permit a legal ID?

Because dumb nuts Tea Nuts, this is a Republican backed ploy to take away YOUR voting rights of which the NRA is a prominent player unlike the libraries. Certainly no dumb nut Tea Nut has ever set foot in a library. They are too busy spending their time at the firing range.

Voter fraud-yeah this law is voter fraud. Suppression of your vote is fraud.