With free admission and discounts to local attractions and restaurants, most students are quick to wield the power of their student identification, but a new law requiring photo identification at the polls next year cuts that power short.
Effective Jan. 1, 2012, all Tennessee voters are required to have a photo ID if they expect to cast a ballot. The current law requires voters only to show proof of signature.
Acceptable forms of photo ID include a Tennessee driver’s license, a valid photo ID issued by the state of Tennessee or any other state in the United States, a valid United States passport, an employee photo ID card issued by Tennessee or any state in the United States or a military photo ID card. However, student identification is not included in the list, despite the required photo of the student on an ID card by most colleges.
Senator Bill Ketron, who sponsored the law, said it was passed to prevent voter fraud, and student IDs were excluded as an acceptable form of identification because they are easy to manipulate. “Well, between the public and the private universities, we felt there probably was not enough control on the issuance of those IDs as there would be in the state,” he said. “In the bill, you can even have an expired driver’s license or passport to vote. There are 14 or 15 articles you could use with a photo.”
… Steven Mulroy, U of M law professor and voter rights advocate, said the fact that a gun ID will work, but a student ID will not for voting purposes is unfair and that the new law will suppress voter turnout among the elderly, poor, minorities and the disabled.
“It’s a solution in search of a problem.” Mulroy said. “These groups are less able than others to navigate the system and physically transport to where they need to go to for this to work. They won’t be able to go and get the ID.” More frequent than not, tampering with votes is an “inside job,” as opposed to someone showing up and impersonating a voter, Mulroy said.