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VOL. 37 | NO. 11 | Friday, March 15, 2013

Senate Oks bill allowing college IDs to vote

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NASHVILLE (AP) — Student identification from Tennessee's higher education institutions could be used for voting, under a measure that was approved Thursday by the state Senate after an attempt to kill the proposal failed.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro was approved 21-8. The companion bill is scheduled to be heard next week in the House Local Government Committee.

Currently, college faculty can use their school IDs to vote, but students can't. Ketron said the legislation just makes it consistent for both to use their IDs.

However, Sen. Stacey Campfield said college IDs are not secure and he proposed legislation to remove them as an acceptable form of identification. The measure failed 20-10.

"It's not a good form of identification," the Knoxville Republican said before the vote. "It's easily faked."

Campfield went back and forth over the issue with the sponsor for about 30 minutes, which Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis seemed to think was a waste of time.

"Has anyone ever heard of someone getting a fake ID to vote?" Kyle asked. "The photo ID is only to validate ... that the registered voter is who you say you are."

Last week, when Ketron's legislation was first brought to the Senate floor, Kyle failed to pass an amendment allowing counties to decide if their libraries can be used to obtain photo identification to vote. Ketron's proposal does not allow library cards issued by local governments to be used for voting.

The city of Memphis and two residents sued the state last year after election officials refused to accept a city-issued library card with a photo as voter identification.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals allowed Memphis residents to use the library cards as voter identification. The Supreme Court said last year that the library card could be used while the court was considering the case.

It's expected to be several months before the high court makes a ruling.

Kyle argued last week that allowing the option would be beneficial because libraries are more accessible than driver's license centers, which are sparse in some counties.

"Every county in the state has a library," he said.