A Senate committee rejected a bill Tuesday that would have let students at public colleges and universities use their campus identification cards to vote. The Senate State & Local Committee voted 7-2 against Senate Bill 1082, which would have amended the voter ID law that the Tennessee General Assembly passed less than three years ago. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, the Memphis Democrat who sponsored the measure, argued that the voter ID requirement has been a burden to students because they often do not have driver’s licenses. “Voter ID is not wrong, in my mind, per se,” he said. “Where I do believe states get into difficulty … is whether or not the access to the voter ID is fair and reasonable.” The panel spent about seven minutes debating the bill, which has been pending since last year. Similar measures have failed in the past.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, noted that the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld the law as it is currently written last fall. The law requires voters to show a state or federally issued ID at the polls, but it explicitly bars the use of IDs from state colleges.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for us to wade back into these waters in this way at this time,” he said.
Afterward, Kyle questioned why lawmakers continue to resist letting college students show their campus IDs at the polls. He noted that other states, including Arkansas and Mississippi, allow them.