The city of Memphis says in a federal lawsuit that a state law requiring Tennessee voters to present state-issued photo identification before they can cast a ballot is unconstitutional. The city had tried to convince a federal judge in Nashville that photo IDs issued by the Memphis public library system should be allowed to be used by voters as a valid form of identification. But two days before the Aug. 2 primary election, U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger ruled that the library identification cannot be used as valid voter IDs. According to The Commercial Appeal city attorneys on Tuesday amended their lawsuit, claiming the voter photo ID requirement adds a new qualification for voting beyond the four listed in the Tennessee Constitution and infringes on the right to vote under the federal and state constitutions.
The attorneys want the federal court to ask the Tennessee Supreme Court whether requiring otherwise qualified voters to present photo IDs violates the state constitution. The amended complaint was filed on behalf of two Memphis voters who did not have state-issued ID cards. The voters, Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell, submitted provisional ballots in the Aug. 2 election, but the ballots were not counted.