A House panel on Wednesday advanced one Democratic proposal to change Tennessee’s new voter ID law, but rejected a second bill and delayed a third. The House State and Local Government Subcommittee voted 4-3 in favor of a measure that would allow people without government-issued identification to vote after being photographed at the polling place. House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, said the bill would eliminate the need for voters who don’t have the proper ID to cast provisional ballots. The favorable vote appeared to surprise Republican leaders on the panel. Absent members and Republican Speaker Beth Harwell were quickly summoned to stop additional measures from advancing.
Harwell, who can vote in any House committee, told The Associated Press afterward that she wanted to ensure the Republican majority was able to defend the law passed last year. “This is something that clearly we’ve heard from the public on — that they want to make sure we maintain the integrity of the ballot box,” Harwell said. “So we’re going to do everything to hold firm with the decisions this General Assembly has made.”
The panel went on to reject another Fitzhugh proposal to move the responsibility for making voter IDs to local election commissions instead of the state Department of Safety. The third of Fitzhugh’s measures would exempt people over age 60 from the voter ID requirements because state law does not require them to have a photograph on their driver’s licenses.