The majority leaders of the state House and Senate have filed bills that could open doors for more people to have a valid photo identification card for voting under a law that was approved in last year’s legislative session. One bill filed Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Colliverville, and House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, would authorize county election commissions to issue a free photo ID. The bill (SB3707) would apply to registered voters who sign an affidavit stating they currently have no ID that is valid under current law. It is similar to a measure filed by House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley, and Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson. (HB2305).
Democratic lawmakers are filing legislation to repeal the Republican-backed voter photo ID law and challenging statements that college student IDs were excluded because of campus fraud committed for underage drinking.
Senate Democratic Chairman Lowe Finney of Jackson and House Democratic Chairman Mike Turner of Old Hickory said Wednesday they are sponsoring legislation to turn back the photo ID act, which takes effect Jan. 1, contending it could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Tennessee voters. “We have a duty as lawmakers to protect the ballot box, but we also have a duty to protect Tennessee citizens’ ability to vote,” Finney said. “This new requirement will put hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans in danger of losing their right to vote. It’s our job to defend that right.”
Editorials: Sen. Finney: Voter ID law needless ploy to disenfranchise voters | The Daily News Journal
It is a little over a year until the 2012 elections, and you’re eligible to vote for the first time. Maybe you’ve moved to another county, or maybe you haven’t voted in a while and need to know your precinct. You call your local election office, where someone tells you that you will need a photo ID to vote. You learn that you’ll need several pieces of documentation to prove your identity in order to receive the ID.
If you live in any of the 54 counties — yes, 54! — where there is no drivers license center, you’ll have to travel to a neighboring county to get the ID. Unfortunately, this will be the new norm.
Since coming to the Senate in 2007, each year my fellow Democrats and I have opposed efforts to place barriers between voters and the polling booth. Earlier this year, the Republican majority passed a law requiring photo identification to vote, despite warnings that it would hurt thousands of voters and potentially cost the state millions in federal lawsuits.
California: State says it won’t pay, and counties don’t have to distribute mail-in ballots | Contra Costa Times
The state will not reimburse Butte County and other county election offices to send out vote-by-mail ballots for the next year, a service half the county’s registered voters use rather than lining up at the polls.
Butte County Registrar of Voters Candace Grubbs plans to report the issue to the Board of Supervisors and its effects at their Tuesday meeting. Of 116,493 registered voters in Butte County as of Friday, 58,048 checked the box to receive ballots in the mail, according to the Butte County Registrar of Voters Office.
“County elections officials have the option of providing vote-by-mail ballots to any voter who requests one for any reason, but if they do, they will not be reimbursed for the cost of doing so in the 2011-12 fiscal year,” wrote Lowell Finley, deputy secretary of state, in a memo to all county registrar of voters.