Press release from Sen. Jim Kyle, D-Memphis; July 6, 2012:
MEMPHIS – State Senator Jim Kyle echoed the sentiments of Mayor AC Wharton, who spoke yesterday on the city attorney’s opinion that new photo Memphis Public Library cards meet the legal criteria for acceptable photo identification for the purposes of voting.
“We need to do everything in our power to guarantee that all citizens that wants to vote, get to vote,” said Kyle. “I believe that this will help us assure that we don’t lose some folks who may not have a photo driver’s license, but still have the right to participate .”
In last year’s legislative session, the General Assembly passed a controversial measure requiring all voters to present a photo ID at their polling place. The new law sparked a wave of confusion about which forms of identification were acceptable; this ultimately compelled the legislature to provide free IDs at all driver’s services locations, and remove the decades-old exemption for seniors from having a photo on their driver’s license.
However, the Memphis City Attorney issued an opinion that, because the libraries are an entity of the state, photo IDs issued by the libraries would fall under the law’s definition of state-issued identification.
“I’m afraid that this law does more to prevent legitimate voters from exercising their rights than it will ever do to prevent fraud;” continued Kyle, who was a leading opponent of the bill, “the Mayor has done a great job of providing a Memphis-based solution to a state-created problem.”