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Memphians Can Vote With Library-Issued Photo IDs

The state Court of Appeals says Memphis Public Library photo IDs can be used to vote.

“The Memphis library photographic identification card is acceptable under the law as sufficient proof of identification for voting,” the ruling read.

The City of Memphis sued the state over a law that requires citizens show a photo ID at the polls. The appeals court upheld that state law today, but reversed an earlier court ruling that said the library-issued photo IDs weren’t acceptable for voting.

“Both sides got something here,” said Senior Reporter for the Memphis Daily News Bill Dries.

According to the Brennan Center For Justice, Tennessee is one of 14 states to pass restrictive voting laws that could impact the November 6 election. A Republican-controlled state legislature passed the law requiring voters show photo IDs at the polls in 2011 and a Republican governor signed it into law. Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, a Democrat, sued on behalf of two women who tried to vote with library cards.

“You can’t deny that this has been a partisan issue,” Dries said, but he pointed out that there is one element that makes Tennessee different from other states that have passed similar laws: a 2005 special election for a Shelby County state senate seat in which dead people voted.

“The Tennessee discussion of this particular law was one that had specific instances of voter fraud,” Dries said.

There could still be an appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court by either the state or the City of Memphis, “we’ll see who decides to appeal,” Dries said.

I love living in Memphis, but I'm not from the city. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I spent many hours at a highly tender age listening to NPR as my parents crisscrossed that city in their car, running errands. I don't amuse myself by musing about the purity of destiny, but I have seriously wondered how different my life would be if my parents preferred classic rock instead of Car Talk.