College students in Tennessee could be barred from casting a ballot in upcoming elections under the state’s new voter ID law. That is, unless they own a gun. Last week, the Tennessee Senate State & Local Government Committee rejected a bill that would have allowed valid photo IDs issued by any public institution of higher education to be used at the polls. The vote on Tuesday was 7-2, with all Republicans opposing and both Democrats voting in favor. No Republicans on the committee offered testimony against the bill, other than Sen. Mark Norris (R) who noted that the courts had upheld the voter ID law in its current form and said he did “not think it was a good idea” to change it to include university IDs.
The Alabama Secretary of State will take the first major step in implementing a voter identification law Dec. 5, but some question whether the law places an unnecessary and discriminatory burden on voters. “It does not make it impossible to vote, but it creates hurdles,” said Decatur City Councilman Billy Jackson, who represents the district with the city’s highest poverty rate and highest percentage of black voters. “The sad thing is the hurdles are greatest for exactly the people who already feel their vote does not count.” The law, passed in 2011, requires voters to present a photo ID when they vote. Beginning in January, voters will have to present a driver’s license, a passport, a college ID with a photo or other government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Previously, prospective voters could use non-photo IDs, including utility bills, Medicare or Medicaid cards, gun permits, fishing licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates.
Based on the chatter on gun blogs and Internet forums, it looks like a groundswell is underway in Virginia to borrow a page from Napoléon’s playbook and vote ‘to the sound of the guns.’ Thanks to a new law passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed by Governor Bob McDonnell (R), all that it will take to vote in Virginia this year is a concealed handgun permit. This means no photo is required to vote, a far different story that the recent Pennsylvania photo-voter statute struck down by a Pennsylvania judge. A key objection to the Pennsylvania photo-voter scheme was the difficulty in obtaining photo ID by people without driver’s licenses.