Tennessee Supreme Court Ruled in Favor of Voter ID Requirement Law

Two residents of Shelby County, Daphne Turner-Golden and Sullistine Bell, and the City of Memphis, filed the lawsuit in Davidson County claiming that presenting an ID issued by a state or federal agency at a voting poll is an unfair and unnecessary requirement for the elderly and poor citizens or residents who do not have a driving license. Ms. Turner-Golden and Ms. Bell tried to vote in 2012 using the library cards as their ID documents, but were stopped by poll employees.

2011 law regarding the proper photo identification at the voting polls were upheld by the Tennessee Supreme Court. The Court stated that legislatures had a legal right to prevent fraud during elections. Nevertheless, Turner-Golden lawsuit was a direct response to City of Memphis v. Hargett lawsuit that happened last year and held that library cards with photos issued by Memphis Officials cannot be used as an ID to present at a voting polls because a state or federal agency did not issue them.

Chancery Court of Shelby County of Tennessee dismissed Turner-Golden and Bell arguments, however, the Court of Appeals ruled that library cards can be used as an ID document while voting.

Finally, on October, 17, 2013 the Supreme Court of Tennessee unanimously ruled that ID requirement law does not put too much burden on underprivileged people, elderly people and people without a driving license and that the General Assembly has the authority to protect people from voter fraud. Supreme Court Justices voted 4-0 and Justice William C. Koch Jr. stressed out that presenting a valid ID in order to vote is not an unfair burden. The Supreme Court Justices stated that voters who do not have a proper ID document can obtain one for free or have a right to file an affidavit stating that they lack necessary funds to get a proper ID. Moreover, Chief Justice Gary R. Wade pointed out that the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as the majority of other state courts upheld similar ID requirements rules for voters.

Furthermore, the Secretary of Tennessee State Hargett said that the fact that the ruling was done unanimously indeed proves that the photo ID requirement law did not cause any harm to voters despite the recent complaints filed by a few Tennessee residents. Hargett also stated that he strongly believed that the ID requirement law would not be found in violation to the Constitution. The Supreme Court also advised that the library cards with a photo could not be used as a Voter ID since Memphis v. Hargett case prohibited to use them.
Hargett also added that the photo ID voter requirement law is a tool used to prevent a fraud and also stressed out that he and the state worked hard to make sure that only people who are allowed to vote could vote at the elections.