IDville Blog | Memphis amends lawsuit regarding constitutionality of ID cards for voting purposes

Memphis amends lawsuit regarding constitutionality of ID cards for voting purposes

by Admin 10. August 2012 12:12

A Tennessee city filed a federal lawsuit stating that a state law mandating voters display state-issued photo identification cards prior to casting ballots does not adhere to the U.S. constitution, according to a published report.

The City of Memphis asked a federal judge in Nashville to approve the use of Memphis public library photo identification cards as a legitimate form of identification for voters, according to The Associated Press.

But late last month U.S. District Court Judge Aleta A. Trauger ruled that the library's card is not a valid ID for voting purposes.

The Commercial Appeal reports the city augmented the federal lawsuit earlier this week, claiming that the voter ID requirement is an unconstitutional infringement against the right to vote under the constitutions of both the federal and state governments.

The newly filed complaint was filed for two voters in Memphis who do not have state-issued ID cards. Their provisional ballots in the August 2 primary election were not validated and did not count.

Attorneys want the U.S. District Court to ask the Supreme Court of Tennessee if mandating qualified voters to display photo identification cards represents a violation of the state constitution.

The judge's ruling on July 31 stated that identification cards issued by state divisions and agencies are valid but those issued by cities or counties are not.

But the judge did note that frustration with the law stems from examples such as the fact that an expired license for hunting from another state can be used while a photo identification card from the library of Memphis is not valid.

As many as 390,000 registered voters in Tennessee are not in possession of a picture ID that would enable them to cast ballots. Among those people are roughly 105,000 residents aged 60 or older who are in possession of drivers licenses that do not hold pictures. Those licenses are permissible by Tennessee state law, the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit is pursuing permission to vote for qualified voters who are without photo identification. The suit also requests that the photo ID law not be enforced by officials until all registered voters in the state are given state-issued identification cards that are legitimate.

The Commercial Appeal notes that the judge, who stated that the legislature of Tennessee did not aim for the photo identification cards issued by local governments to qualify, appeared to leave open the opportunity for attorneys to pursue direct constitutional challenges to the state law.

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