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VOL. 37 | NO. 12 | Friday, March 22, 2013
Senators press to allow student IDs for voting
NASHVILLE (AP) — The Senate sponsor of a bill to allow people to display student IDs to vote said Monday he plans to press ahead with the matter even through the version approved by the House would not allow the practice.
A House committee last week removed photo IDs issued by public colleges and universities from the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, who said she agreed with the change.
"There was a majority consensus that college IDs are too easy to duplicate, too easy to access, too easy to acquire and some of them do not even have expiration dates on them," House Local Government Chairman Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, said about the changes. "And that poses a danger and a hazard to the voting process."
The full House approved the bill on a 65-30 vote on Monday evening.
But Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro noted in a statement that the Senate overwhelmingly rejected efforts to take student IDs out of the bill when the measure passed the upper chamber on a 21-8 vote earlier this month.
"We will continue to push to allow state-issued student identification to remain in the bill as passed by the Senate, even if we have to go to a conference committee," Ketron said.
Ketron said including the student IDs issued by state colleges and universities would bring Tennessee into line with an Indiana law that has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Both versions of the bill would eliminate library cards as valid voter ID.
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 has upheld the state voter ID law as constitutional but also allowed Memphis residents to use the library card as identification to vote. The Supreme Court said last year that the library card could be used while the court was considering the case.
That case is still pending before the state's highest court.
House Democrats raised several objections to the voter ID bill.
"I feel like I was hoodwinked, bamboozled, the end-around play was run and you scored a touchdown," said Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis. "The point of this matter was simply this: To run interference on a decision that is made by the Tennessee Supreme Court in regards to library cards."
Rep. Johnnie Tuner, D-Memphis, called the measure "a form of voter suppression at a time when we should be encouraging all Tennesseans to vote."
But House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, turned back that argument in an animated speech on the House floor.
"This idea of voter suppression is just not true. What we want to suppress is dead people voting," McCormick said. "Dead people should not be voting. But in this state they have."