Opinion Survey Finds Overwhelming Public Support for TN Voter ID Law

Although 4 out of 5 Tennesseans favor a controversial state law requiring voters show a government-issued photo ID to vote, according to a new poll, critics say they refuse to accept defeat.

Voters across the state will take the new voter ID law out for a spin for the first time March 6 in the Republican presidential primary, testing the bounds of whether voters who lack a photo ID can get one in time to cast their ballot.

“Everywhere I go, everybody agrees with it. Very few people do I find that disagree with it,” said Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, who sponsored the measure in the Senate when it became law last year.

The telephone poll of Tennessee adults is conducted twice a year by Middle Tennessee State University’s Office of Communication Research, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The MTSU Poll asked respondents:

Do you think asking voters in Tennessee to show a form of identification that includes their name and photograph is a good idea that should be kept in place, or a bad idea that should be done away with? Or do you have no opinion one way or the other?

According to MTSU, 82 percent of respondents favored sticking with the new law, 11 percent said the state should do away with the measure and 7 percent offered offered no opinion.

“I’m sure all 82 percent of them had a drivers’ license with a photo on it,” said Sen. Jim Kyle, the leading Democrat in the upper chamber and an opponent of the voter ID law.

MTSU found 92 percent of respondents know a driver’s license can be used on election day, but only 21 percent knew an expired driver’s license would be just as good. About 42 percent of people mistakenly thought a college ID would be accepted at the polls, although 84 percent of people knew a military ID would be accepted.

A coalition of critics called Barriers to the Ballot Box has rallied against the measure for the better part of a year, saying the results don’t change the fact that some voters — likely ones voting Democrat — will be disenfranchised when they try to cast their ballot.

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU’s Tennessee chapter and a member of the coalition, says opponents are pushing lawmakers to repeal the law, although the move has little support among the Republican-led legislature. She said the coalition is still exploring whether it will challenge the law in court.

The Super Tuesday primary election is not the first in the state subject to the voter ID law. Voters in Waynesboro cast ballots in the city election earlier this month. The primary election for state and congressional races will be held in August.

Steven Hale contributed to this report.

  • Pingback: March 1 TN News Digest | Tennessee Report

  • Ed Griffitts

    In Marion county Tennessee in early we voted a little over 1100 voters 1 person a 92 year old lady voted provisional ballot.And 24hrs later she came back with a voter picture ID.,

  • http://www.tnca.org Mary Mancini

    The question is not specific enough. It’s not ANY phone ID, you have to show one of 5 very specific government-issued photo IDs. We’re sure if you made it clear that student IDs specifically could not be used you’d get a different response.

  • http://www.tnca.org Mary Mancini

    ….Or that millions of people do not have the specific IDs needed to vote. When presented with all the facts, Tennesseans are nothing but fair-minded…

    • Jere Hodges

      “millions of people”

      You must be taking a national statistical view into account. Tennessee only has a population of just over 6.4 million people, of which nearly 1.5 million are children under age 18. Given that the remainder is just under 5 million, I doubt seriously that “millions” of Tennesseans don’t have appropriate picture ID to allow them to vote.

  • Tom Moore

    Tennessee’s new voter photo ID law is nothing less than state-sanctioned voter fraud. Wait, that’s not correct. It’s massive and intentionally deceitful state-sanctioned voter fraud. The fact that 5 out of 6, or 95 out of 100 people questioned believe that the photo ID law is okay, good, excellent or just what the country needs is irrelevant.

    The new law is not so cleverly cloaked in the language of reform: “to protect against voter fraud” or “ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.” The reality is that all of the new voter ID laws enacted in over a dozen states, so far, violate both the letter and the spirit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In addition, the laws are in contradiction to one of our country’s fundamental democratic principles, ‘one person, one vote,’ embodied in the 15th amendment to the Constitution.

    It just so happens that the justification for the photo ID law i.e., “to protect against voter fraud” is the same language used to justify Jim Crow-era voting laws which intimidated and prevented Blacks from voting in many states.

    With liberty and justice…for some.

  • Pingback: Requirement that Seniors Get Photo Taken for State ID Passes TN Senate | Tennessee Report

  • Pingback: | Missouri News Horizon

  • Pingback: Voter ID Law Tweaked | Tennessee Report

  • Pingback: Voter ID Opponents Shift Focus to Education, Rallying Democratic Voters | Tennessee Report

  • Pingback: | Missouri News Horizon

  • Pingback: More than 20K Voter IDs Issued in Primary Election Run-Up | Tennessee Report

  • Pingback: | Missouri News Horizon

  • Pingback: Memphis Library Cards OK For Voting, Court Finds - TNReport | TNReport

  • Pingback: | Missouri News Horizon