Republicans in the Volunteer State said today loudly and of nearly one accord: Beware of sneaky senior citizens and their sneaky voting.
On Thursday Republicans in the state House approved a bill that forces voters to show photo identification at the poll — instead of just being able to show your voter registration.
Democrats in the House, and Senate prior to Thursday, tried their best to improve this bill so it wouldn’t be such an affront to seniors’ and others’ right to vote. But Republicans were not interested in protecting the voting rights of Tennessee seniors.
They went ahead and passed a modern day poll tax that requires you to pay the state for an ID card before you can vote. This bill will discourage voting — especially among groups of people who are poor, elderly and indigent.
It puts another hurdle between citizens and the ballot box and is probably unconstitutional, according to our state Attorney General.
Offering a solution to which there is no problem (and making the situation worse for everybody) is a condition that plagues this Republican-led General Assembly.
Jeff Woods at The City Paper has the details:
Democrats contended the bill is intended to make it harder for their traditional constituencies to vote, disenfranchising poor, elderly and minority voters who may not have photo IDs.
They pointed to a formal opinion state Attorney General Bob Cooper issued this week. Because the legislation includes no provision to pay for photo IDs for voters who don’t have them, Cooper said the requirement “unduly burdens the right to vote” and “constitutes a poll tax,” a fee making voting uneconomical for poor people.
“Our oath, of course ladies and gentlemen, prevents us from voting on a bill that is unconstitutional,” House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley told the House. …
Democrats offered amendments to make the photo IDs free of charge or to waive the requirement for the elderly and others.
“We’ve made it from the days of Andrew Jackson to today in Tennessee electing people without having to show a photo ID,” Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, said. “I’ve looked around to see if there’s any evidence of widespread fraud by seniors in elections. I haven’t found any. No one so far in this debate has shown any evidence of any need to change the system we now have in place.”