FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2012
CONTACT: Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, 615-320-7142
NASHVILLE – The Court of Appeals of Tennessee today ruled that State and Shelby county election officials must accept City of Memphis library cards that include a photograph as sufficient identification to vote under Tennessee’s new voter ID law.
While the Secretary of State’s office argued that only identification cards issued by state or federal entities are acceptable under the state law, the City of Memphis argued that libraries are technically under state supervision and therefore city library cards should be acceptable forms of identification.
Though Tennessee’s law establishes a mechanism for eligible voters who lack state-issued IDs to obtain one, the process is time-consuming and cumbersome. Accessing these free photo IDs is especially challenging for aspiring voters who lack their own transportation and proper documentation or who have inflexible work schedules. The law particularly burdens senior citizens, racial and ethnic minorities, students, people with disabilities and low-income voters, who are both less likely to have the documentation required to vote, or the means to get it.
With library locations with evening hours throughout the city, the City of Memphis’ library ID program is a creative response to the state’s burdensome photo ID requirement.
The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:
“ACLU is disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision to uphold the photo ID law because it undermines our fundamental right to vote by disenfranchising a significant number of Tennesseans. Today’s ruling at least helps Memphians meet the onerous photo ID requirement, but we remain committed to promoting access to the ballot box for all of the Tennesseans whose vote is still burdened by the photo ID law.”