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TN Report: Voter ID bill passes

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With a near party line vote of 23-7 in the Senate Thursday, all that remains to block state-funded college IDs as valid identification for voting in Tennessee is the governor’s signature.

With no explanation, Senate Bill 125 sponsor Bill Ketron rose and simply said he would “move to concur” with House Bill 229 as amended. The Republican senator from Murfreesboro noted that one of the amendments from the House “retains the present law prohibition on the use of student identification card to veria person’s identity.” The other corrected a typographical error.

This was in stark contrast to a statement Ketron issued the previous week: “We will continue to push to allow state-issued student identification to remain in the bill as passed by the Senate, even if we have to go to a conference committee.”

Sen. Jim Kyle, D- Memphis, and Sen. Doug Overbey, R-Maryville, both spoke in favor of allowing student IDs.

“All the photo ID does is verify that you are the person who registered to vote,” Kyle said. “We sometimes seem to be confusing the idea of having a photo ID and the right to go vote. You don’t have a right to go vote unless you have registered to vote and have met the criteria of registration to vote.”

The 15-term senator also expressed a desire for legislation to go further and “give citizens the opportunity to use any valid form of governmental-issued photo ID, but we’re not going to go there. This Senate doesn’t want to do that.”

Kyle attempted to mount an effort to send the bill to a conference committee to reconcile the initial differences in each chamber about allowing student IDs.

Overbey said he believes that a student ID card does meet the standard of the other photo IDs allowed by the bill. Overbey also disclosed a potential conflict of interest based on his role as a trustee for Maryville College, invoking the legislature’s Rule 13.

“I believe in the principle of having a photo ID to ensure that the person going to vote matches a properly issued identification card,” he said. “Folks, I know of situations where folks obtain a false driver’s license, but we do allow driver’s licenses to be used.”

With only those comments, the amended bill passed the Senate along party lines, except for Overbey, who joined the six Democrats in voting against it.

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Bill Ketron, Elections, General Assembly, Politics, Student IDs, Tennessee, Voter ID
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Members Opinions:
April 12, 2013 at 10:36am
The issue of student identification cards being allowed as a form of personal identification in lieu of a driver’s license or other form of already valid ID is an issue that affects Murfreesboro and in large part the whole of middle Tennessee. College issue ID’s should be a valid form of identification when the student is going to attempt to vote. The article quotes a really good point made by Senator Jim Kyle from Memphis, ““All the photo ID does is verify that you are the person who registered to vote,” Kyle said. “We sometimes seem to be confusing the idea of having a photo ID and the right to go vote. You don’t have a right to go vote unless you have registered to vote and have met the criteria of registration to vote.” As a ‘college town’ we should not disallow certain members of our community the right to attempt to go to the polls simply based on their lack of another form of valid ID. As Sen. Kyle states the having of an ID does not mean that every student enrolled has suddenly registered to vote, that process is not touched, it simply allows for a greater segment of the population to let their voice be heard. Although this article is simply a news story and not an editorial, it does seem as though those individuals without drivers licenses, such as students or individuals with disabilities which do not allow them to drive, allowing those individuals to use another form of photo ID is a valid argument for this cause and a point that is not raised in this article. Hopefully, this aspect of the ID battle will be acknowledged the next time that this issue is raised in the political and social arena. All in all however this article does a very good job showing both sides of the political aisle and the viewpoints of key figures in this debate and it raises awareness of the issue.
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