State officials say they’re starting a public education campaign about the new law requiring Tennessee voters to show photo identification.
The photo ID law takes effect with elections in 2012, and Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Wednesday the campaign is aimed at avoiding confusion at the polls.
The Republican-dominated legislature passed the law this year over the objections of Democrats, who contended it is intended to make it harder for their traditional constituencies to vote. Democrats said it will disenfranchising poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have photo IDs. But Republicans insisted the law is needed to combat voter fraud.
“I believe this new requirement is a common sense step that will increase public confidence in our elections,” Hargett said. “Requiring photo IDs will decrease the chances that an eligible voter can be impersonated by someone else at the polls.”
Driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, government employee identification cards and military ID cards are acceptable forms of photo ID under the law. Voters who can’t afford any of these forms of photo ID can get a state-issued ID, free of charge, at drivers’ license offices around the state.
As part of the education campaign, the state Division of Elections has provided local election officials with information about the new requirement that will be distributed to people casting ballots in municipal elections around Tennessee this year. Also, information about the new law will be posted on the Department of State’s website, officials said.
“It is very important to us that people understand this new requirement so they are not surprised when they get to the polls next year,” state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said.