Gov. Bill Haslam says he has voiced concern to legislators that the new state law requiring voters to have photo identification will make it “unnecessarily hard” for some people to cast ballots in next year’s elections. The governor said he is not recommending changes in the new law or delaying implementation.
“We haven’t made that recommendation to them yet,” Haslam said in an interview. “I think the way government works, you know, is that our job is to carry out things and also to propose things. At this point in time, all we’ve done is raise the issue.”
The new law, enacted by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Haslam earlier this year, takes effect Jan. 1. The first election with the new law in effect will be March 6, the date of Tennessee’s presidential preference primary.
The Legislature meets Jan. 10, which means members could postpone the law before 2012 voting begins. Other elections will be held in August and November of 2012.
The lawmakers who spearheaded passage of the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, say they do not share the governor’s concern. House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart and Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron said they want “full steam ahead” with enforcement and implementation of the new requirement for voting.
Haslam said he is particularly concerned over voters who hold a Tennessee driver’s license with no photograph, which will not be valid for voting under the law. A separate state law makes photos optional on driver licenses for persons aged 60 or over.