October 25, 2012
Memphis Public Library Card With Photo Held To Be A Valid Voter ID
Here’s a bit of legal fun. The Tennessee voter ID law was under attack in that state as unconstitutional. The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that the law is constitutional. However, the more interesting part of the opinion concluded that a photo ID issued by the Memphis Public Library constituted a valid ID for anyone attempting to vote under the law. The State had argued against that point. The Court stated:
The list of photograph identification cards that are deemed acceptable as proof of identity at a polling place includes “a valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency or entity of this state, any other state, or the United States authorized by law to issue personal identification; provided, that such identification card contains a photograph of the voter.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A). Memphis argues that its library cards meet this definition. The State argues that the Memphis library is not a “branch, department, agency or entity of this state.”
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The words used in Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A) are quite broad, with no modifiersto limit their application. According to Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-1-102, the election code is designed “to regulate the conduct of all elections by the people so that: (1) The freedom and purity of the ballot are secured; . . . and (4)Maximum participation by all citizens in the electoral process is encouraged.” Allowing local governments to produce photographic identification cards that can be used as identification for voters at the polls is consistent with and furthers both of these goals.
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In addition, Tennessee case law supports finding that the city is “a branch, department, agency or entity of this state.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A). The Tennessee Supreme Court has observed that, “[i]t is beyond question that a Tennessee municipality is an agency of the state exercising a portion of the sovereign power of the state for the public good.” Collierville v. Fayette Cnty. Election Comm’n, 539 S.W.2d 334, 336 (Tenn. 1976). We hold that Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112(c)(2)(A) allows the City of Memphis, through its public library, to issue photographic identification library cards that can be used by voters to satisfy the identification requirements of Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-112.
In accordance with Tenn. R. App. P. 36(a), an appropriate order will be entered simultaneously with this Opinion requiring the defendants to take immediate action to appropriately notify the Shelby County Election Commission in accordance with this decision.
I have to believe there are more uses for a library card acting as a photo ID beyond voting under this logic. The case is City of Memphis, Tennessee v. Tre Hargett, Secretary of State (No. M2012-02141-COA-R3-CV - Filed October 25, 2012). [MG]
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Posted by: Id Card Case | Oct 25, 2012 11:03:44 PM