Have photo ID laws harmed voter participation?

Johnson City Press • Jul 11, 2016 at 12:00 AM

Since 2012, Tennesseans have had to show photo identification before being allowed to vote.

Tennessee is one of 19 states where voters must present photo identification. Another 14 states accept other forms of identification.

Acceptable forms of photo ID in Tennessee include driver’s licenses, U.S. passports and government employee identification cards. Meanwhile, college photo IDs are not accepted.

Absentee voters are exempt from photo ID requirements, as are residents of licensed nursing homes who vote at those facilities, voters with a religious objection to being photographed and voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee.

The photo ID law was passed by the Republican-controlled state General Assembly in 2011. Sponsors said the measure was needed to thwart voter fraud.

Critics of the photo ID law, however, say it discourages voter turnout and is a burden to elderly and poor Tennesseans. The American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters, NAACP and AARP are among the groups that have expressed concerns about the law.

Strict voter ID laws have been challenged in several states, such as in Texas where a case is pending in the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Have photo ID laws discouraged voters from going to the polls?

Tell us what you think by sending your comments to [email protected] Please include your name, telephone number and address for verification.

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