Tennessee Supreme Court hears arguments on voter ID law

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 4:43pm

The Tennessee Supreme Court invoked century-old arguments about suffrage in Wednesday morning’s hearing of a voter ID lawsuit brought by Nashville civil rights attorney George Barrett.

Barrett is representing the city of Memphis, which attempted last year to disperse library cards that could be used as acceptable forms of photo ID. But the state election commission instructed polls in Memphis not to accept the IDs.

The state Court of Appeals ruled before the election that the cards could be used, although they upheld the state’s photo ID requirement as well.

The state appealed the decision to the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Both sides presented oral arguments in the case on Wednesday morning.

Justice William Koch repeatedly questioned both sides, using case law from the late 1800s. “It’s fascinating that all these arguments were made back to 1865,” Koch said.

The case law represented prior arguments about the burden placed on voters — and how far was too far. In one case, Nashville required voters to vote from home and notify the city whenever they changed residences.

Barrett called the current state-issued photo ID requirement an “overreach” that resulted in 650 residents being turned away from the polls last year.

However, state Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter said the state is attempting to protect the purity of the ballot box. She also mentioned that the Memphis library was run by the city, thus not considered a state entity capable of issuing valid voter photo IDs.

Justices Sharon Lee and Cornelia Clark both pointed out perceived flaws in current state law — including a lower burden for absentee ballots that don’t require a photo ID.

The case, however, could come down to whether the justices find acquiring photo ID is an “impossible and oppressive” restriction on voters.

Koch expressed concern that approving the Memphis library cards could be a slippery slope that allows other forms of ID to pass.

“That’s going to open a broad spectrum of [acceptable IDs],” Koch said.

14 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 2/6/13 at 5:37

If the voter must have an ID card to prove they are eligible to vote, shouldn't the candidate also have ID card identification proving they are legally eligible to run for said position?

By: Ask01 on 2/7/13 at 5:52

Gee, I wonder how this will end?

A red state supreme court hearing an argument about voter suppression laws enacted by Republicans to ensure only the "right" people vote?

I can't wait to see what further trampling of voter rights the future holds.

By: Rocket99 on 2/7/13 at 7:13

So, let me get this straight. They want to make it harder to vote than to purchase an assault rifle. Sounds about right.

Just amazes me how these people are trying to fix a non-existant problem while totally ignoring other things that actually need taking care of.

Just more proof that a certain party doesn't really give bull hockey about real people.

By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 2/7/13 at 8:50

Rocket99 - Voter fraud is not a non-existent problem. There have been enough convictions on it to show that your claim is wrong. And nobody can buy a pack of cigarettes without showing ID, much less whatever it is you want to falsely describe as an "assault" rifle. So you really not know these things or are you lying intentionally?

By: pswindle on 2/7/13 at 9:49

FRAUD IN TN IS LESS THAT 1%. WHAT IS THE % OF GUN VIOLENCE? IN THE 2000 ELECTION, HOW MANY VOTES WERE CHANGED FOR BUSH? NOW THAT IS VOTER FRAUD.

By: wasaw on 2/7/13 at 1:17

pswindle, we all want to know, ", HOW MANY VOTES WERE CHANGED FOR BUSH IN THE 2000 ELECTION ? I'm sure you're correct on your assertion, so please tell us, "IN THE 2000 ELECTION, HOW MANY VOTES WERE CHANGED FOR BUSH?" We're certain you're not the type of individual who makes baseless accusations. So pswindle, "IN THE 2000 ELECTION, HOW MANY VOTES WERE CHANGED FOR BUSH?"

BTW, if there was voter fraud in the incident to which you refer, why would you NOT want to fix the issue so that it could not be repeated ? Wouldn't you think that if Tennessee could learn from Florida mistakes, we could be ahead of the curve?

Why are people fearful of a voter requirement that has a basis of ensuring that all votes cast are legitimate votes? Why are voters in Memphis to be held to a lsser standard than voters in any other Tennessee region? Memphis voters historically have voted Democrat. Why does that party fear a requirement, that has as its basis, a purpose to ensure that the individual who is pulling the lever, is in fact, the legal registered voter?

Lastly pswindle, what is the parallel you're making between voter fraud and gun violence ?

By: FaceBook:Emmett... on 2/7/13 at 1:24

pswindle - Exactly how do you know this 1% figure? Just making it up?

By: yogiman on 2/8/13 at 4:53

Yep. Notice the name being (p)swindle. It apparently fits good.

By: Ask01 on 2/8/13 at 5:22

I suppose I could almost believe a higher motivation in the voter suppression, I mean voter ID laws, except it appears those citizens most likely not to have a goverment issued ID are by some strange coincidence the same citizens most likely to vote Democrat.

By: Shof on 2/8/13 at 9:18

Rocket99, exactly how many "assault rifles" have you bought where you didn't have to show ID? If you're buying from a dealer, you have to show a driver's license, fill out a background check form, wait for the dealer to call it in and then wait for approval. How is this easier than voting?

I'm sorry, but I'm 100% behind the idea of having a state-issued photo ID for every voter. I mean, come on, they'll issue one at any DOT location. You need an ID if you open a bank account, you need an ID at the doctor's office, you need an ID to cash a check, you need an ID to buy a pack of cigarettes, you need an ID to buy a 6 pack of beer, you need an ID to buy insurance, you need an ID to pick up prescription drugs, why shouldn't you need an ID to vote?

Voting is the most important thing an American citizen can do in this country. And we need to insure that it's being done as our forefathers envisioned, ONE person, ONE vote! Maybe Tennessee has a voter fraud problem, maybe we don't, but isn't it more than a little silly to cry racism or voter suppression over something as simple as a photo ID card? I mean, how hard is it to get one? It's NOT! I managed to get my driver's license in one day, simply by going to the DOT first thing in the morning, waiting about 20 minutes, getting my picture taken and I was gone, voter ID in my wallet. If I can do it, anyone can. Just don't wait until the day you want to vote to get the darned thing. If you don't have a voter ID card, get it NOW, before the next election!

I believe that the only reason people do NOT want voter ID is so they can cheat the system. That's the only possible reason...

By: GUARDIAN on 2/8/13 at 9:44

I didn't know that democrats don't have picture ID's or that their picture isn't on their drivers license... lol . get real or don't vote... GUARDIAN-GOD, COUNTRY, FAMILY and FRIENDS. The American Way.

By: Moonglow1 on 2/8/13 at 11:17

Moonglow1: "However, state Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter said the state is attempting to protect the purity of the ballot box. She also mentioned that the Memphis library was run by the city, thus not considered a state entity capable of issuing valid voter photo IDs."

What??? The purity of the ballot box...on my please please. Please cite the number of "tainted votes." She cannot since they are very few. Everyone knows this voter ID is the latest tactic to disenfranchise voters in particular those that vote for Democrats.

By the way, how pure is DeJarlais? Ha, ha, and why does he still hold a license to practice medicine if that is what he does practice.

By: yogiman on 2/9/13 at 6:29

I fully agree with you on the photo ID issue, Shof. But you left out one position: To become President of our nation.

The man in office now has refused even to identify himself with a certified birth certificate, let alone a photo ID card. Shouldn't we know who in the hell he is?

By: ConservativeSailor on 2/12/13 at 12:32

The People voted the Communist In Chief into office ... twice! Apparently, reading "Dreams From My Father" is not a requirement to be able to vote. I must show my Driver's License or other Government Issued Photo ID (Federal or State) in order to attend the INAUGURATION of this man. To BUY BEER. To BUY CIGARETTES. To GET ON AN AIRPLANE, and soon on a GREYHOUND BUS.
No one should be allowed to vote who cannot prove they have the right.
No one should be allowed to run for office who cannot or will not prove they meet the requirements to HOLD the office.
This political correctness raises my blood pressure.
But here's the truth about Voter ID:
You go to the polling place and can't produce acceptable ID. You cast a Provisional Ballot. You have 10 days to get the ID and present it to the proper authorities. That's not disenfranchising.