Tennessee court rejects voter ID challenge

[JURIST] A judge for the Davidson County Chancery Court [official website] in Tennessee on Wednesday ruled that Tennessee's voter identification law [SB 16 materials] does not violate the state's Constitution [text, PDF]. Civil rights attorney George Barrett argued before the court that the requirement that residents show proof of ID is unduly burdensome [The Tennessean report]. Barrett sought an injunction against the requirement in anticipation of the upcoming November election. Chancellor Carol McCoy ruled that the law is constitutional, even though the state constitution limits voting qualifications to legal age, residency and voter registration. Barrett indicated that he would try to take an appeal to the state supreme court prior to the November election.

A report published by the Center for American Progress (CAP) [advocacy website] in April asserted that Tennessee is one of the five worst states for voting rights [JURIST report]. The report criticized the tide of recently-passed state voter ID laws as an attempt by conservatives and lobbyists to "return to past practices of voter suppression to preserve their political power." The Tennessee law states that any ID that is not distributed by state or local governments, including student IDs, are not valid forms of voter identification. There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls.

 

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