So a Tennessee House of Representatives committee voted to approve a voter ID bill which would require TN voters to present photo ID at the polling place on election day. There are a few exemptions (people who living in nursing homes; people who have religious objections to having their photo taken). Voters without ID will have to case a provisional ballot which would be taken by election officials and “considered” later.
A similar bill has already passed the state Senate, so this bill is virtually guaranteed to pass.
My first reaction was, how can this not be considered a poll tax? Photo IDs are not free, and I dont’ see any provision to provide free state photo IDs to eligible voters. There are at least a half a million eligible voters in Tennessee do not have drivers licenses, even leaving aside the very poor or homeless. Also, I don’t seem to recall hearing anything about rampant voter fraud in this state, so why is this even necessary?
Also, I notice that by exempting seniors living in nursing homes, the Republicans have protected a class of voters most likely to vote for their party while ignoring groups like the poor and homeless who might be more likely to vote Democratic.
But I also read that 14 other states have passed Photo ID election laws, so I imagine that the concept has passed some kind of judicial review. So I have a GD question and a GQ question:
- Am I over reacting here? I don’t think so.
- How can this be defended as constitutional, i.e., not a poll tax?