Laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls reduce election fraud, supporters of Tennessee’s new voter ID law told Senate lawmakers Thursday. Opponents of such laws countered that they target low-income, minority and student voters, who are more likely to vote for Democrats and might lack government-issued IDs such as driver’s licenses and passports.
Democrats and voting-rights advocates told members of the Senate subcommittee on civil rights that rural and elderly voters also could be disproportionately affected because they might have trouble traveling to get an ID. In Tennessee, voters over 60 aren’t required to have a photo on their driver’s licenses.
“I am deeply concerned by this coordinated, well-funded effort to pass laws that would compromise the right to vote,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the civil rights subcommittee, said at Thursday’s hearing.
He said the incidence of voter fraud is “minimal” and doesn’t justify such measures.
Durbin wrote to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday, asking him to explain the steps his administration is taking to “ensure that Tennesseans without the forms of photo identification now required by the law can obtain it – efficiently and free of charge – before the next election.”