If Tennessee absolutely must have a law requiring voters to produce photo identification, the state Election Commission is absolutely right to conduct an education campaign to make voters aware of the law.
The law was passed by Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature last spring, despite warnings about its questionable constitutionality. The law becomes effective in January 2012, so it will not pose an obstacle for the 2011 city of Knoxville and state Senate elections, for which early voting has begun.
The law was touted by supporters as a check on voter fraud, an argument that made it to the U.S. Senate on Thursday. However, Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and chairman of the Senate’s subcommittee on civil rights, said the incidence of voter fraud is minimal and doesn’t require this remedy, according to a story on Tennessean.com.
Tennessee is among several states to pass a voter photo ID law this year, with at least three states awaiting a review by the Department of Justice.
For its part, the Tennessee Election Commission is trying to make every voter aware of the provisions of the law, said Election Coordinator Mark Goins.
The state commission already has conducted telephone conference calls with election administrators in all 95 counties. Additional work will be conducted with civic groups such as AARP and the League of Women Voters. There will be public service announcements and possibly direct mailing.