Senate approves bill requiring state's voters to have photo IDs

Monday, February 14, 2011 at 6:30pm

Over the objections of Democrats who said it would place an undue burden on senior citizens and the poor, the state Senate voted 21-11 Monday to require voters to show photo identification.

Republicans argued the new requirement would stop fraud, pointing out some 13,000 dead people and 12,000 felons have been discovered on voter rolls in the past two years. Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, said his bill addresses “the need to protect the purity of the ballot box.”

“This gives the Division of Elections a tool to detect and deter voter impersonation,” Ketron said.

But Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, called it “a modern-day poll tax.” Naming several Democratic constituencies, he said some voters would have to pay to travel distances to obtain photo IDs so that they could exercise their right to vote.

“If you’re a senior citizen, if you’re disabled, if you’re poor and don’t own an automobile, that’s a substantial burden,” Herron said.

“...The problems that are solved by this, if any, are far outweighed by the problems that are caused by this.”

In a statement, AARP Tennessee State Director Rebecca Kelly also expressed reservations about the bill.

“Voting is the most basic of rights and must be preserved,” Kelly said. “AARP has concerns about any legislation that creates obstacles for eligible voters, particularly those who are older, poor and geographically isolated. There are too few people who make the effort to vote as it is. We should be working to make the voting process easier, not more burdensome.”

The bill lets people who are 65 or older vote by absentee ballot, and anyone without a photo ID could cast a provisional ballot to be considered later by election officials.

The Senate has approved the bill three straight years, but it always has failed in the House. This session, it almost certainly will pass the House too and become law, with Republicans now in firm control of the legislature. Eight other states require photo IDs for voting.

10 Comments on this post:

By: revo-lou on 2/15/11 at 1:59

This is a crock of BS, all for show bill. In the 4 decades that I have been voting, I have never been able to waltz in and vote with out confirming my name and address at my polling place, and showing some form of ID, usually my Voter Registration Card, but a DL is acceptable as an alternative. But a bill would have worked also, just something showing my name and address that matches what was on the voter rolls.

Showing a picture ID is not going to change anything, or stop any fraud, because if someone wants to commit fraud, they are going to do it when they register, not when they vote. They only thing it may "catch" is people that have moved, and forgot to change their voter registration, but, probably not even then, because they most likely wouldn't have changed their DL either!

By: skeptic1 on 2/15/11 at 8:53

I am sure that voting is not the only reason elderly or impoverished people in our state might need a photo ID. Is voting the only contact they have with modern life...the only time they need to identify themselves? Wow! That is depressing.

By: pswindle on 2/15/11 at 9:22

O' how the GOP can come up with somenthing that is not worth a hill of beans. If it is a policy to help TN, they can't handle it. In the next four years, I hope the people will see what the GOP is doing to us and our state.

By: JKennedyMD on 2/15/11 at 10:16

Integrity of the process is key to why this bill should pass and be signed into law.

Is it a burden for Tennesseans to have drivers' licenses, to take examinations demonstrating their competencies to drive, and to pay government for the privilege to do so? Absolutely, yet government establishes these burdens as to preserve the integrity of the process of driving on our roads and to establish a consequence of revocation should one not adhere to the rules of the road.

Is it a burden for Tennesseans to establish their identity when they travel through the Nashville airport? Of course it is; however the government requires this so that we have a greater sense of security when we fly.

What's so different about establishing one's identity when one votes by having a photo ID? We wouldn't need this bill if not for the Ophelia Fords of the world (who, by the way, is a Democrat) and their political operatives who shamelessly commit fraud when voting on behalf of their dead or felonious relatives or friends. Is not the integrity of the voting process important to Democrats or are they afraid of losing the voting power of their constituency who won't do the work of establishing their identity.

I'm surprised that they're not out to eliminate voter registration all together. Those who don't register can't vote; are they unduly disenfranchished? What's the difference in registering to vote and establishing one's identity?

I am grateful that the GOP is advocating the integrity of the voting process. If more Democrats would do the same (paging John Ford, Ray Blanton, and most of the Tennessee Waltz crowd), there would be more of them in office.

By: foxman on 2/15/11 at 10:40

The GOP is cleaning house and the liberals can't stand it. I love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By: not_guilty on 2/15/11 at 1:27

If the federal constitutional prohibition on poll taxes is disregarded, what will white Republicans disregard next? Will they insist on literacy tests? How many bubbles are in a bar of soap, anyway?

More than any other factor, the enfranchisement of dark-skinned people and the enforcement of voting rights for all realigned the major political parties in the states of the old Confederacy. While the Democratic Party has a checkered past on race relations, I am proud that most of the racists have found my party inhospitable enough during the past fifty years that they shifted to the Republicans.

By: GUARDIAN on 2/15/11 at 10:58

GUARDIAN_At last...this will make it easier to catch those that vote for than once and when they catch them off to jail they go...I love it.:):):):)

By: revo-lou on 2/15/11 at 11:32

{GUARDIAN_At last...this will make it easier to catch those that vote for than once and when they catch them off to jail they go...I love it.:):):):)}

Really? How will it do that,and be specific so that we can see and follow how it will stop multi-voting.

By: govskeptic on 2/16/11 at 2:59

A few to lots of felons will have a little harder time voting and
those photos on the ID's of the often voting Dead will be
something to behold. Accomodations can be made for those
seniors too poor to get a $2.00 ID card I'm sure. This is no
poll tax, but a requirement to get rid of a few polecats that
vote too often!

By: yogiman on 2/16/11 at 3:44

I didn't read where you would have to pay to get a pictured voter ID card, so how can it be considered a poll tax? Does that mean the cost of our pictured driver's licenses are actually considered a driving tax?

If a senior aged person can go to the store when they need to, let's say, every two weeks, and maybe to a doctor's office, let's say, every three months. Let's just say, anywhere they want to go, anytime they want to go, It should still unjustifiable to require them to prove they are who they claim to be when they want to vote, let's say, every time they want to vote because they are so decrepit?