NewsTracker Transparency and Elections

TN Senate: No Library Cards to Vote, College ID’s OK

A bill clarifying what types of photo identification Tennesseans can use at polling places passed the state Senate Thursday, but some lawmakers were unhappy with certain forms of ID that were added to the list.

The sponsor of Senate Senate Bill 125, Bill Ketron, reworked some language in the existing voter ID law to prohibit ID’s issued by counties or municipalities, like library cards, from being used to gain access to the ballot box, while also allowing students to use their college ID’s to vote.

In past elections, faculty members, but not students, were able to use such forms of university-issued identification. The Murfreesboro Republican told fellow senators his bill “simply makes it consistent.”

Some of Ketron’s fellow Republicans, however, weren’t keen on the idea of using student ID’s at all. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville filed an amendment removing college ID’s from the list of acceptable options, arguing that they’re “not a valid form of identification” because they can be easily faked.

“You can’t even buy a pack of cigarettes with a college ID or go to a bar with a college ID but somehow we’re saying that’s fine to get into the ballot box,” said Campfield.

But Jim Kyle contended that Camfield was trying to legislate a problem that didn’t exist. “Has anyone, anywhere, ever heard of a college student getting a fake ID to vote?” the Memphis Democrat and Senate minority leader asked.

Senators voted to kill Camfield’s amendment before passing the original bill. The lower-chamber version of the legislation is still working its way through committee.

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