State Senator Bill Ketron has introduced a bill that which passed the Senate Monday that would require all persons to present a photo identification when entering a polling place to vote. Democratic reactions to the bill were predictable, with several members, including Beverly Merrero, railing on about how people who did not drive would not have proper identification. Senator Roy Herron complained that were the legislation to become effective, his 90 year-old mother would have great difficulty voting (even though the law which would allow her to procure an absentee ballot would not change under the proposed legislation).
I took offense to the idea that a non-driver can’t get proper identification. As regulars to this blog and to my radio podcast may know, I am a non-driver by choice, preferring to put the safety of others before my personal desire to drive. Yet I have the two forms of identification needed to vote under this legislation: My voter registration card and a photo ID-issued by the State of Tennessee no less. Senator Merrero spoke of those who use public transit. As an old veteran of the public transit system in Knoxville, and someone who has ridden a bus in Nashville in the past, I speak truthfully when I say that if you can catch a bus to the shopping mall, you can catch one to a place where you can procure proper ID. In Knox County, there is even such a place at the mall (yes, the bus goes there)!
One area where I could see a problem is that of women whose name change due to marriage, as was pointed out during the debate. I propose a compromise here, even though it would cost the State a bit of money (we have upwards of a half a billion dollar surplus), it wouldn’t be near as expensive as some of the Governor’s other proposals and it would resolve the issue: Amend the final version of the bill to allow for all new voter registration cards to be issued with a photo ID. Those who have a current ID issued through your local Department of Public Safety office via your county clerk, your picture that is already in the system can be used on your voter registration card when it is mailed to you. Those few (like Senator Herron’s mother) who can’t get out to have a picture made, why can’t someone from the local DPS office or Board of Elections come to your home at your request and snap your picture, then put the picture on your new card?
Yes, it would cost the State a bit of money. However, it would be a very small price to pay indeed to insure that our elections are free, fair, and that fraudulent voting practices are reduced to an