Press Release from the House Democratic Caucus; April 15, 2011:
Tennesseans will unconstitutionally be required to present photo identification to vote
(Nashville) – A coalition of House Democrats and Republicans Thursday were unsuccessful in blocking legislation that will form an unconstitutional barrier for Tennessee’s senior citizens to vote.
The bill, which passed the Tennessee House 57-35, would require that every citizen in the state be required to present a photo identification along with a name and address at the polls. Attorney General Bob Cooper, the day prior, opined that the measure was unconstitutional.
Currently, voters are simply required to provide a valid social security card or voter registration certificate.
“This bill is a tax on voters,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner (D- Old Hickory). “It places an undue burden on our seniors; no one should have to pay for an I.D. or anything else when it comes to casting a vote in this state or in this country.
“Several Republicans along with the Democratic Caucus voted against this measure because it is blatantly unconstitutional. We tried to amend the legislation to require that the state pay for identification cards. This would have made the bill constitutional. The sponsor refused to compromise on this simple change that would have fixed the problem.”
Efforts to protect seniors, by allowing exemptions on identification requirements for those over 65 or those who have on their person a Medicare card were voted down by the Republican leadership.
The bill is now headed to the governor’s desk.
“We are respectfully asking him to veto this bill, because it flies in the face of every Tennessean’s right to vote.”