Appeals Court Hears Voter ID Law Debate
(Nashville) – It may be more than a week before we know if the Appeals Court believes the Voter I.D. Law is constitutional. Thursday a panel of three judges heard arguments from the City of Memphis and the State of Tennessee.
“This is the single most important case that I have tried in court,” attorney George Barrett told the court.
He said this case is about one of our basic rights, the right to vote.
“Now we have a legislature that is tinkering with that right,” he said.
Attorneys representing Memphis and two Memphis residents argue their clients vote’s were not counted in August because they did not have the proper photo I.D. A judge pointed out, that one of the clients is over 60, so she could have voted absentee without having to show her I.D.
Still attorneys argued the new law is keeping people from the polls.
“The right to vote is foundational. It’s constitutional,” City of Memphis attorney Herman Morris said. “We should revery back to the way we’ve been voting for the last 200 years.”
The state argued that lawmakers have the right to make laws that ensure the “purity of the ballot box.”
But Morris said their focus should be making it easier to vote.
“No one has said that this new barrier this new requirement, this new modern-day poll tax, is maximizing or encouraging greater participation by the voters,” he said.
Mark Goins the State’s Election Coordinator says voter turnout is up.
“Yesterday we had 120,000 people vote early the first day so if there’s voter suppression going on somebody’s forgetting to tell the voter,” he said.
He said that of the voters who cast ballots Wednesday, only 18 didn’t have I.D. He said 4 of those people already came back with their proper form of I.D.
He added that reversing the law in the midst of an election would only add confusion.
“We’ve trained thousands of poll workers,” he said.” You can imagine the logistics of 95 counties trying to get the word out.”
The final word from the Appeals Court is expected next week. So far the lower courts have upheld the voter. i.d. law.