The city of Memphis wants a Nashville federal judge to order the state to accept photo library cards issued by the city since last month as a valid form of voting identification. The lawsuit filed Tuesday, July 24, was expected. City Attorney Herman Morris wrote a 33-page legal opinion in January making the city’s case that the new library cards were acceptable under the state law requiring photo ID to vote, which the Tennessee Legislature passed in 2011. With Tuesday’s filing, the city is seeking an injunction “ordering the defendants to issue instructions to the Memphis Election Commission to accept such library cards as a means of identification for the purpose of voting in elections.” Without such instructions, the city claims the state is violating the U.S. Constitution, specifically the equal protection clause.
At a Wednesday, July 25, hearing, Judge Kevin Sharp denied the city’s motion for a temporary injunction to take effect immediately. She will hear motions and filings from both sides in the lawsuit as she moves toward a decision on the larger issues. The city’s plaintiff is Daphne Turner-Golden, a Memphis voter who is one of 990 people the city estimates have been issued the photo library cards since June.
Turner-Golden, according to the verified complaint filed with the lawsuit, has been a voter for 30 years and the library card is “her only form of photo identification.” She went to Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church Monday, July 23, during the ongoing early voting period in advance of the Aug. 2 election day and was turned away without being offered a provisional ballot.