Legislation that sponsors say will protect the integrity of elections in Tennessee overcame its first hurdle towards passage last week with approval by the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The bill requires voters to provide photo identification to guard against fraud and assure only U.S. citizens vote.
The bill provides for various forms of photo identification to be used, including a driver’s license, military identification, a valid passport, and various forms of government employee identification cards and any federal and state-issued identification cards that contain photographs of the voter. The legislation does not apply to nursing home residents. It also allows for those who are indigent to sign an affidavit swearing their status as an eligible voter. Additionally, the bill provides for a “provisional ballot” that would only be counted if the election counting board is able to verify current and valid identification of the voter within three days.
Last April a U.S. Supreme Court decision validated the right of states to require voters to produce photo identification. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, of the 24 states that have a voter-ID requirement, seven specify a photograph be shown to prove identification, including neighboring states Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana. In no state is a voter who cannot produce identification turned away from the polls. All states have some recourse for voters without identification to cast a vote or provide for a provisional ballot.
This legislation has been approved for the past several years in Tennessee’s State Senate but has failed in the House of Representatives.
In other action in the State and Local Government Committee last week, legislation was approved to add two Republicans to the State Election Commission to satisfy a state law that the board be made up of the majority party in the Tennessee General Assembly. State law currently requires that the political composition of the five-member State Election Commission be three members of the majority party and two members of the minority party. In 2008, the majority party changed, prompting the need to replace one Democrat on the state board with a Republican. The terms of office for State Election Commission board members, however, are on a four-year cycle, which is in conflict with state law given the shift in power.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.