State’s high court shoots down voter ID challenge

7:40 pm | October 17, 2013

MEMPHIS — The Tennessee Supreme Court said Thursday that it has declined to overturn the state’s voter identification law after it was challenged by the city of Memphis and two voters.

Shelby County residents Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell sued the state last year, arguing that the law requiring voters to present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote in state or federal elections was unconstitutional.

Bell and Turner-Golden tried to vote in the August 2012 primary using their Memphis Public Library cards — which they argued was valid ID — but they were turned away.

The trial court ruled against them. The Court of Appeals ruled the library cards were acceptable, but also ruled that the photo ID requirement was constitutional. The Court of Appeals also ordered election officials to accept cards from the Memphis library, and they were used during the 2012 general election.

Lawmakers then amended the Voter Identification Act in April so that municipal library cards were excluded as valid voter ID.

The Supreme Court ruled that all issues pertaining to the validity of the Memphis library cards were not relevant due to the law change.

The high court also said the legislature has the prerogative to enact laws guarding against the potential risk of voter fraud and that additional identification requirements placed on voters did not violate the Tennessee Constitution.

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