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VOL. 37 | NO. 9 | Friday, March 1, 2013
Bill allowing state college IDs to vote delayed
NASHVILLE (AP) - A proposal that would allow student identification from the state's higher education institutions to be used for voting was delayed Thursday in the Senate amid questions about the validity of such IDs.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro sailed passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee 8-0 earlier this week, but ran into trouble on the Senate floor.
Shortly after an explanation of the bill, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis proposed an amendment that would allow counties to decide if their libraries can be used to obtain photo identification to vote. Ketron's proposal does not allow library cards issued by local governments.
The city of Memphis and two residents sued the state last year after election officials refused to accept a city-issued library card with a photo as voter identification.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals allowed Memphis resident s to use the library card as identification to vote. The Supreme Court said last year that the library card could be used while the court was considering the case.
It's expected to be several months before the high court makes a ruling.
Kyle argued that allowing the option would be beneficial because libraries are more accessible than driver's license centers, which are sparse in some counties.
"Every county in the state has a library," he said. "It's an issue of convenience, not identification."
After the amendment was defeated 24-8, it looked as though Ketron was going to move forward with a final vote.
But Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield of Knoxville expressed concern about just how valid a college ID would be, saying it doesn't have proper security markings and that it puts pressure on election workers to "identify all types of college IDs" and determine their validity.
"We're making it hard on our poll workers," he said.
Ketron decided to delay the bill a week to address Campfield's concerns. The companion bill is scheduled to be heard next week in the House Local Government Subcommittee.
Also Thursday, the Senate did pass 24-3 another election-related measure that would prohibit people who are not U.S. citizens from entering polling places. They would be allowed to under certain circumstances, such as to assist a voter who may be disabled.
Sen. Mike Bell said he proposed the bill after hearing about people from foreign countries observing elections last year in certain state polling locations.
"I don't know how many election polling places they were at, but there was somewhat of an uproar created from that," said the Riceville Republican.
The companion bill to that measure is also scheduled to be up next week in the House Local Government Subcommittee.