published Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Tennessee's controversial Voter ID law could face court challenge

  • photo
    House Republican Caucus Chairwoman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville speaks to reporters in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, March 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Poll
Should voters be required to show a photo ID?
  • Yes. 65%
  • No. 35%

804 total votes.

NASHVILLE — A controversial Tennessee law requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polling places could soon face a court challenge if not changed, an attorney warned Wednesday.

“A suit is being contemplated, and we’ve been attempting to get it resolved through other, political means, which appear to have been fruitless — at this point,” said attorney Gerard Stranch, of Nashville. “We have hopes that the Legislature will take up the issue in January and fix the law.”

Stranch, an attorney in private practice, also serves as general counsel for the Tennessee Democratic Party. He said he was not at liberty to go into further detail about the possible legal action.

American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg said she was aware of a possible lawsuit, but quickly added, “I don’t have anything else to say” regarding any legal action.

The measure, which goes into effect Jan. 1, was passed by the Republican-led General Assembly earlier this year and signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Republicans say the new law tightening requirements is necessary to deter voter fraud. Among other things, it requires voters without photo ID to prove their U.S. citizenship.

Democrats like Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, argue GOP supporters can only come up with one documented case of actual voter impersonation in Tennessee. They contend moves by Tennessee and other states are part of a national GOP effort to disenfranchise millions of minority, elderly, young and low-income voters across the U.S. before the 2012 elections.

Favors said she hopes legislative efforts to change Tennessee’s law will be fueled by the U.S. Department of Justice’s move last week to reject a similar statute passed by South Carolina Republicans. The department says it discriminates against minorities.

“I think that it could apply and it should,” said Favors, who earlier this year formed a group called the Tennessee Voters Assistance Coalition to help registered voters obtain state driver licenses or other Department of Safety-issued photo ID cards.

Favors, who is black, said the Tennessee law is “not just against minorities. The first phone calls I received ... were from elderly Caucasian [white] women.”

She said the law is particularly harsh for poorer, elderly voters who were born outside hospitals and don’t have birth certificates.

House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville, who along with Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron, of Murfreesboro, sponsored the law, said South Carolina’s situation is different from Tennessee’s.

“South Carolina is under a different scrutiny than other states are,” she said. “I believe they have to get approval from the Department of Justice when they do anything to their voting laws. We’re not under that scrutiny.”

She also noted that Tennessee is providing free photo IDs for voting purposes and voters can even use expired driver’s licenses as well as other state or federal government-issued ID to satisfy requirements. Tennessee’s law, Maggart said, is based on an Indiana law that the U.S. Supreme Court found constitutional.

Under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, South Carolina is one of a number of mostly Southern states required to receive federal “preclearance” on voting changes to make sure they don’t hurt minorities’ political power.

Republican National Committee member John Ryder, of Memphis, an attorney and expert in election law, said South Carolina “is a covered jurisdiction under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and Tennessee is not. So all the election changes in South Carolina have to be submitted to the Department of Justice for pre-clearance and Tennessee’s do not.”

Asked whether the same legal principles could apply, Ryder said no, charging Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration’s action against South Carolina was “purely a political move by a political Department of Justice.”

“Let’s be clear on this: voter ID laws are not partisan in nature,” Ryder said, citing a Democratic-backed law in Rhode Island. “They’re not racial in nature.”

While declining to discuss possible legal action, ACLU Tennessee’s Weinberg said in Tennessee “there’s no question that the bill was pursued in order to disinefranchise Tennesseans.”

She said such laws “often have a disparate impact on minorities and seniors, students, disabled individuals and low income persons who often don’t have access to the document requirement ... let along the financial ability to access the document necessary to get documents.”

Safety Department officials are trying to help an estimated 126,000 Tennesseans ages 60 and over with nonphoto driver’s licenses obtain them more easily by opening driver service centers on the first Saturday of each month. Free IDs are also being issued to nondrivers for voting purposes.

From July 1 to Dec. 23, the department says it issued 9,207 voter IDs. Of that number, 8,718 were nonphoto driver licenses converted into photo driver’s licenses. The other 489 were original photo IDs.

In Hamilton County, the state’s two driver service centers have issued 630 photo driver’s licenses or original ID, about 6.8 percent of the state’s total.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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Gator said...

Two comments: 1. Did the liberals ever think that maybe the reason there is only ONE documented case of voter fraud is because the VAST majority of them weren't caught? 2. "Favors, who is black, said the Tennessee law is “not just against minorities. The first phone calls I received ... were from elderly Caucasian [white] women.” - why is it OK for blacks to call whites "Caucasian", but are insulted if whites call them "Negros"? I'm pretty much "color-blind" and don't really care what color a person is, but I just found that interesting when I saw the word "Caucasian".

December 29, 2011 at 9:14 a.m.
hcirehttae said...

People of every race and gender, knowing the history of voting discrimination and how past generations fought for the right to vote, should feel insulted by the suggestion that the minor inconvenience and petty expense of acquiring legitimate identification to prove their identity would ever prevent them from expressing their rights as American voters.

December 29, 2011 at 10:06 a.m.
Momus said...

hcirehttae, Let's look at it a different way; "People of every race and gender, knowing the history of [gun rights] and how past generations fought for the right to [bear arms], should feel insulted by the suggestion that the minor inconvenience and petty expense of acquiring legitimate identification to prove their identity would ever prevent them from expressing their rights as American [gun owners].

My point being is that the same voices that call for voter ID's are against the same standards for guns. Just an observation.

****Remember that the view is a lot different from the cheap seats.

December 29, 2011 at 11:16 a.m.
Gator said...

Momus... I'm a little confused by your statement. Even though the Second Amendment grants me the RIGHT to bear arms, I had to jump through all kinds of hoops to obtain a piece of paper making it LEGAL for me to bear those arms. If I did all that without complaining about the application costs, the background check costs, the course costs, AND the fingerprinting costs, why on earth would someone complain when there are NO COSTS associated with getting a FREE ID? Why the comparison to guns?

December 29, 2011 at 11:48 a.m.
SeaSmokie59er said...

Gator, If you don't think all the 'hoops' you had to jump thru to own a gun (which is your constitutional right) is wrong then I can understand why you wouldn't object to jumping thru 'hoops' to vote. First it was guns, now voting. My question is: When is enough enough?

December 29, 2011 at 2:37 p.m.
chet123 said...

GATOR...YOU SAID YOU WERE COLOR BLIND....IF SO...WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THIS BONE-HEAD ISSUE ...Hmmmmmm....DONT TELL ME ..DONT TELL ME....SOME OF YOUR BEST FRIENDS ARE NEGROES HA HA HA

December 29, 2011 at 3:05 p.m.
chet123 said...

I SEE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS TRYING TO STEAL ANOTHER PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.....Hmmm WILL THIS BE #3......THEY STOLE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 2000,2004....NOW THEY SHOOTING FOR 2012...HA HA HA

TARGETING SELECT SEGMENTS OF AMERICAN THAT VOTE DEMOCRATS....HA HA

December 29, 2011 at 3:09 p.m.
Momus said...

I did all that without complaining about the application costs, the background check costs, the course costs, AND the fingerprinting costs, why on earth would someone complain when there are NO COSTS associated with getting a FREE ID?

What's stopping the gov't from imposing those same 'hoops' for voting? If you want to be silent, I'll complain for you.

December 29, 2011 at 3:11 p.m.
chet123 said...

I SEE WHY REPUBLICAN ARE IN LOVE WITH STATE RIGHTS........STATE RIGHT TO TAKE DEMOCRATS VOTERS RIGHTS....

December 29, 2011 at 3:12 p.m.
Gator said...

I didn't say I LIKED jumping through the hoops, I said I did it without whining and complaining. Getting a CCP is a lot harder (AND expensive) than getting a picture ID. Stop whining and just do it! Oh, and by the way, REPUBLICANS stealing elections? LOL! Does the name ACORN sound familiar? The democrats have defrauded the American people in many, MANY elections. Look at the buffoon sitting in the White House right now. Oh, wait! He's not there! He's on a 4 million dollar taxpayer paid vacation in Hawaii. :)

December 29, 2011 at 3:30 p.m.
Gator said...

Chet123... I thought I made it clear the only reason I mentioned it is because she called white people "Caucasian". I personally don't what people call me and have no problem with Caucasian. I just thought it was odd coming from someone who would be offended if I called her a negro. And, by the way, yes, I have MANY black friends.

December 29, 2011 at 3:33 p.m.
chet123 said...

MOMUS...THIS IS NOT ABOUT FRAUDENT VOTING.....THIS IS AN ATTEMP TO SUPRESS DEMOCRATS VOTERS.....THE REPUBLICAN ARE DESEPERATE IN MAKING OBAMA A ONE TERM PRESIDENT....AND THEY WILL STEAL AN ELECTION TO DO SO.THEY HAVE NO RESPECT FOR THEIR FELLOW MAN....THEY WANT IT TO BE THEIR WAY..AND THEIR WAY ONLY

AND WHATS THE RUSH......YOU WOULD THINK IF THEY ARE SERIOUS...THE REPUBLICAN WOULD PHASE IN THE NEW LAW...NOOOOOOOOOOO! THIS IS ABOUT 2012 ELECTION.....DONT BE FOOLED.....THE MAJOROTY OF PEOPLE IN THE LARGE CITIES USE MASS TRANSIT....MANY DO NOT HAVE DRIVER LICENSE...REPUBLICAN KNOWS THIS....THEY ALSO KNOW THAT THIS SEGMENT VOTE HEAVILY DEMOCRATS......SAME AS THE YOUNG COLLEGE STUDENT ...MANY COLLEGE STUDENTS DONT HAVE DRIVER LICENSE...THIS GROUP ALSO VOTE DEMOCRATS...........DID YOU KNOW THAT A LICENSE GUN OWERS CAN USE THEIR GUN LICENSE ID TO VOTE--THIS IS BECAUSE THEY ARE HEAVILY REPUBLICANS---

DONT BE DECEIVED...THESE DEVILS(REPUBLICANS) ARE DESPERATE...

THEIR MAIN OBJECTION IS TO DEFEAT OBAMA....EVEN IF THEY HAVE TO DO IT ILLEGALLY

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY HAVE RESEARCHED THIS MOVE....AND HAVE WEIGHED THE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS ACTION....BECAUSE THEY HAVE PEOPLE LIKE KOCH BROTHER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION ,CATO INSTITUTE AND OTHER RIGHT-WING THINK TANK...AND THE REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST SUPREME COURT BEHIND THEM...THEY FEEL THEY CAN PULL IT OFF AS THEY DID IN 2000,2004 PRESIDENTIAL ELECION

DEMOCRATS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM THIS TIME!!!!!!

December 29, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
rolando said...

I wondered when guns would be brought up in connection with this law. The anti-gunner libtards here never miss a chance. The last time they made similar ridiculous comparisons was when they were comparing same-sex marriage with the struggle for civil rights.

I also wondered when the libtard Democrats would file suit to stop the Photo ID law. After all, it is well established among the thinking class that the libtards are the losers. No wonder they are fighting it so hard. I am sure they will find a judge somewhere who will agree with them and block it...virtually guaranteeing them the election.

A wise man said that when the voters find out they can vote themselves "free" money, the Republic is finished. And that's what voting for the Socialist/Communist libtards accomplishes.

December 29, 2011 at 3:35 p.m.
chet123 said...

GATOR...I KNOW ACORN IS YOUR BOOGIE MAN...BECAUSE THEY REGISTER VOTERS..........REPUBLICAN USE A PROSITUTES AS VOTERS...A PROSTITUTE....SO THIS IS YOUR JUSTIFICATION.....

GATOR.....I WOULDNT KNOCK PROSTITUTE IF I WERE YOU....EVER HEARD OF SENTATOR VITTLE OF LA....Hmmmmmmmm...I DONT SEE YOU COMPLAINING ABOUT HIM HOLDING OFFICE

December 29, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
chet123 said...

ACORN HAVE NEVER STOOP TO THE LEVEL OF REPUBLICAN PARTY....

December 29, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
chet123 said...

ROLANDO.....I KNEW I WOULD WAKE YOU UP TALKING ABOUT GUNS RIGHT.....LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING BUDDY...I ARE WALKING ON AMERICAN VOTERS RIGHTS.....PEOPLE HAVE DIED TO VOTE BECAUSE OF FOLKS LIKE YOU TRYING TO SUPPRESS....SEE YOU ARE UP TO YOUR OLD TRICKS........YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RIGHT AND AT THE SAME TIME TAKING OTHER AMERICAN RIGHTS.......GLAD YOU ARE IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY....WOULDNT HAVE YOUR KIND AS DEMOCRATS....THE REPUBLICAN BRAND-NAME IS DAMAGE FOREVER!!! A THIRD PARTY WILL REPLACE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY.....YOUR PARTY IS NOT CAPABLE OF GOVERNING

December 29, 2011 at 3:47 p.m.

Gaton: Caucasian isn't usually considered offensive, though it is probably highly inaccurate, unless you are referring to somebody specifically from the Caucasian region.

However, if you have a genuine objection to the term "Caucasian" that would be fair enough, but that doesn't seem to be the case, instead it's an objection to a person who you are trying to come up with an attack against. That means your objection isn't genuine, you are just making a false protest.

But if you want to say "They're not caught" as a justification for an offense, then why aren't you out catching some? If you are saying this problem is significant enough, how can we trust the people passing the laws? Obviously you're putting the cart before the horse.

Instead, do what I suggested, and try making the provision of an effective ID system a priority.

December 29, 2011 at 3:58 p.m.
chet123 said...

GATORS ...YOU SAID YOU HAVE MANY BLACK FRIENDS,,HA HA HA....WOULD THEIR NAME BE CLARENCE THOMAS AND HERMAN(999)CAIN..HA HA HA

December 29, 2011 at 4:07 p.m.
chet123 said...

GATOR...I CAN TELL YOUR VOTER RIGHTS ARE NOT BEING THREATEN....YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT SEMITICS.....THE WORDS NEGROES AND CAUCASIAN....IS THIS ALL YOU GOT???? THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO VOTING RIGHTS ARE BEING REMOVED...AND YOU TALKING SEMITICS HA HA

December 29, 2011 at 4:12 p.m.
Facts said...

This has nothing to do with race in reality. The race-baiters, however, know how to do nothing more intellectual than scream, "Racism", when things don't go their way. Then using my credit card at Walmart is racist when I have to present ID; buying beer is racist; boarding an airplane is racist; renting a video game is racist; cashing a check is racist. Please stop; you've proven you have no ability to do anything but holler, "racism."

December 29, 2011 at 8:43 p.m.

None of those things is, in itself, actually a right.

Voting is.

That said, there have been several instances of documented discrimination when it comes to credit and airplanes. It's not hard at all to find cases of it. So yeah, there are problems with those transactions as well.

You can ignore the problems, by proclaiming your disdain for the people involved, but that won't make the problems any less real.

If you want to genuinely address voter ID, why aren't you making damn sure that every voter, every citizen, every person in the country has an ID?

Why isn't that important to you?

December 29, 2011 at 8:53 p.m.
talkthetalk911 said...

JUst wana let everyone know (not that ya care) i am white and really could care less what people call me. I am all for ebing equal. Im also all for having a voting system with as much integrity as possible. For all citizens with voting rights. It seems frm some of the under tones is less about the democratic vote and more about the african american vote. 90 percent of registered african american voters are democrats. Thats a pretty high percentage. Both parties share the blame. Both parties have some corruptness inside. Fact is we are the greatest nation in the world. Are things perfect? No? Can things improve? Yes. But not every move made by the white man is an attempt to send african americans back to the rear of the bus again. Many whites were along side african americans fighting for their liberties and many whites continue to do so. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Be fare and be equal to all races .Its time to stop the hate on either side and move onto better lives.

December 29, 2011 at 9:42 p.m.

Not every move? Perhaps. But that does not mean that every move is not about discrimination. Even if it's not the intent, it being a result is a problem.

If the concern really is for ID, change the systems to provide ID to make them reach out to everybody.

December 29, 2011 at 9:49 p.m.
rolando said...

Happy -- So you would force every citizen in the US to submit to a Photo ID requirement whether they want to vote or not.

Since it will be a government requirement for everyone to have the Photo ID, what penalty will be imposed upon those who chose not to submit? [There is always a threat included with any government dealing.]

You must love bureaucrats since you want so many of them...

December 29, 2011 at 10:27 p.m.
talkthetalk911 said...

Make "them" reach out to everybody? who's "them"? and who is everybody? Are there not poor white democratic voters???? Are there not poor white republican voters??? are there not poor black republican voters? Yes there are blacks and whites that are in the same boat. Most of both want to live life, be treated equally, and do not go around looking for some hidden twisted racial agenda with every incident that makes the headlines. There wer whites during the civil rights movement that stood up and would not tolerate racial oppression and there are whites today that would not as well!

December 29, 2011 at 10:29 p.m.
sage1 said...

Actually, all of you black Dimocrats have (as usual) missed the real intent of the voter ID laws. They are not about you! They are in place to eliminate the REAL Dimocrat demographic target for votes....fraudulent votes by the Illegal Immigrants that they embrace with so much passion.

What I don't understand is how anyone that works and pays income taxes can vote for a party that wants to give our hard earned tax money to people that don't pay into the system.

December 29, 2011 at 10:57 p.m.

Rolando: Since the pro-ID for voting people are so insistent on it being a required part of life already through various examples they've named in this thread, I think your protests would be directed towards them, not me.

The people who are supportive of it being required are the ones who are letting it be a threat, by making it something that can be restricted or denied. I am suggesting taking AWAY the threat by making the government be obligated to provide such ID, through mechanisms that do not let it be hindered, but require a proactive effort.

I am not suggesting you need to have it, or use it, or receive it, just that the government is required to provide it. See the difference?

Talk: Them refers to the systems. Systems refers to those which are engaged in the provision of ID. Sorry if you were confused.

As for the rest, why don't you look at the proportions? You can bet somebody did a calculation and said they gained more than they lost. And regardless of what you feel about "every" this is about one situation in particular, which the statistics agreed upon by the same people proposing it do show inequality.

Like I said already, though, if you are truly interested in being fair, take the teeth out of it. Instead of protesting some nebulous group whose criticisms you don't like, just make it a required element that such ID be provided though a deliberate reaching out to people.

Why is this in particular so anathema? Do you think it's a bad idea for some reason?

Sage: Ah, you must have heard of GE then.

December 29, 2011 at 11:02 p.m.
talkthetalk911 said...

BUlbs..no confusion on my part! i can not help that when you try to project your obviously superior intellect that you make absolutley no sence! Scary!! your a voter. No wonder!

December 30, 2011 at 9:32 a.m.

Talk: You asked "who's "them"? and who is everybody?" and I answered your inquiry. I also replied to the rest of your comments.

But you didn't see fit to reply to the rest of what I said, when instead you could attack me.

I suggest you refrain from throwing stones while living in a glass house.

Momus: Or it's a case of "We must follow the rules" until the rules don't work for them, then it becomes "The rules are arbitrary and must be ignored" which is hardly better.

December 30, 2011 at 10:55 a.m.
chet123 said...

FACTS...YOU SAY IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE HA HA HA HA

LISTEN BUDDY...LET UNCLE CHET TEACH YOU SOMETHING

THERE ARE 3 ISSUES IN POLITIC SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THIS COUNTRY LISTEN CAREFULLY

1) RICH AND POOR ISSUE

2) WAR ISSUE

3) THE RACE ISSUE

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN WON AND LOST ON THOSE THREE ISSUES....

AND FOR YOU TO COMPARE VOTERS RIGHT WITH BUYING BEER, FLYING IN A AIRPLANE AND VIDEO GAMES SHOWA WHAT A FOOL YOU REALLY ARE......MAYBE BECAUSE YOU HAVE NEVER HAD TO FIGHT TO VOTE OR GET DOGS TURN ON YOU OR HAVE YOUR HOME BOMBED.....YOU REPUBLICAN ARE SO STUPID....YOUR ARGUMENT ARE SO WEAK...ITS LIKE TALKING TO A CHILD.

NOW IF SOMEONE ATTACK YOUR RIGHT ALL HELL WOULD BREAK OUT.....LET SOMEONE TAKE YOUR GUN OWNERSHIP RIGHT....YOU WOULD GO BESERK!!!!BUT YOU HAVE NO PROBLEM TAKING SOMEONE ELSE THAT YOU DONT LIKE RIGHTS AWAY!!!!!

GROW UP MAN!...AND STOP WATCHING FOX NEWS

December 30, 2011 at 11:09 a.m.
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