The state Senate approved Thursday a bill that will make college student identification cards valid for voting despite Sen. Stacey Campfield’s contention that lawmakers were “gutting” protections against voter fraud. The bill by Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron was approved on a 21-8 vote and now goes to the House, where it faces a committee vote. Besides legalizing college student IDs for voting, the bill also prohibits use of library cards issued by the city of Memphis. The state Court of Appeals has ruled the Memphis cards are valid for voting and the state Supreme Court is considering an appeal of that decision, though it issued a temporary order last fall allowing the cards to be used in the November 2012, election. The eight no votes on the bill, SB125, included Campfield, R-Knoxville, and four other Republicans who objected to the college ID provision and three Democrats who objected to the Memphis library card prohibition. Ketron said the bill includes both provisions to imitate, as closely as practical, the voter ID law of Indiana, which has been upheld as valid in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Some supporters of the photo ID law have voiced concern that forbidding use of college student IDs issued by a state university while allowing other forms of state-issued ID could be successfully challenged in court.
Campfield, in a floor speech, recalled that Ketron had opposed allowing college IDs for voting in a 2011 bill that led to current state photo ID requirements.
“Instead of raising the bar for eligibility, we are lowering it,” Campfield said. “We are lowering it to the point that it really doesn’t mean anything.”
He said college ID cards are “easy to fake” and “you can get them (fake ID cards) online for a couple of bucks.”
“What we are really doing is gutting the photo ID law,” Campfield said. “If you’re voting for it, you’re voting to remove the protections we put in place last time.”