Although Tennessee’s controversial voter ID law faces yet another legal challenge, it remains intact — at least for now. Attorneys representing two Memphis residents whose votes were not counted in the August primary because they lacked a government-issued photo ID asked a three-judge Appeals Court panel on Thursday to throw out the state’s voter ID law. They claim the law is unconstitutional and suppresses turnout among certain segments of the population. Janet Kleinfelter of the attorney general’s office pointed to a lower court’s recent decision upholding the Republican-backed voter ID law on the basis that the constitution allows legislators to enact laws that “secure the freedom of elections” and “the purity of the ballot box.” A decision is expected in the coming weeks, even though early voting for the general election started on Wednesday.
Civil rights attorney George Barrett has been challenging the new law in the courthouse for months. Both state and federal judges in Nashville have rejected Barrett’s attempt to appeal the law. If Barrett’s latest challenge falls apart, he said he likely will take the matter to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Mark Goins, the state’s elections coordinator, said reversing the law in the midst of an election would confuse voters and complicate matters for the thousands of poll officials who have been trained to check for state-issued IDs.