The new, improved Gov. Bill Haslam — willing to weigh in on issues — should use his new leadership to urge solutions to what is a messed-up voter photo ID law. He’s dropping hints that he might intervene, saying the state’s driver’s license stations were not ready for the lines of voters seeking a photo ID so they can vote. Haslam is not asking lawmakers to postpone the law. But he used an interesting little word: “yet.”
“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said. The driver’s license centers need to be “a little more customer friendly,” the governor told reporters, and “they’re not where they need to be yet.” Haslam could do this and offer political cover to both parties. He could, for example, ask that the legislature push back the start date by a year to make more improvements to reduce driver’s license station wait times.
He could float an amended bill, allowing college students to use their student IDs at the polls and exempt seniors. He could push lawmakers to grandfather all existing registered voters in, and begin requiring a photo on voter registration cards from here on out. He could create a new system in which you get a new registration card with a picture taken at the time you go vote. That would phase in a new system nicely over time. Even some supporters concede that, as is, this has the potential to be a complete mess on Election Day.