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TN congressman bemoans no library card for voter ID law

By   /   October 30, 2013  /   No Comments

By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog

NASHVILLE — Why should a person bemoan the fact that a voter in Tennessee can’t use a library card to get into a voting booth?

Many state libraries won’t give you a library card, regardless, unless you already have a government-issued photo ID — that you could easily use to get into a voting booth anyway.

That was the question Tennessee Watchdog had hoped to pose to Memphis U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who complained about the matter in a news release last week.

VOTER ID: U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee bemoans the fact that voters can’t use library cards, according to a recent release.

Cohen was particularly agitated over a recent Tennessee Supreme Court ruling upholding the state’s voter ID law, which requires state residents to present a photo ID before going into a voting booth.

Library cards, however, do not count.

“This cure is worse than the imagined disease,” Cohen said in the release.

Cohen’s spokesman, Ben Garmissa, did not return Tennessee Watchdog’s request for comment Tuesday.

Nashville Public Library spokeswoman Sarah Squires said, in general, no one can obtain a library card in the city without at least offering a government-issued photo ID.

“If there is not a picture ID that would be a little more difficult. We would evaluate that on a case-by-case basis, but as a rule we do require a picture ID.”

A representative for the Cherokee Branch Library in Memphis said the same thing to Tennessee Watchdog last year.   

Squires, though, did say exceptions exist.

“Producing a credit card with a photo might be acceptable, but that person would also have to produce mail to verify their residence here in Davidson County,” Squires said.

So, technically speaking, is it not possible for someone to fraudulently obtain a library card?

The state Supreme Court allowed Memphis voters to use their library cards in year’s presidential election.  

Some of those voters told Tennessee Watchdog they feared possible voter fraud with just a library card alone.

In response to the recent ruling, Cohen has proposed amending the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly referred to as the Motor Voter Law. Cohen’s proposed legislation would mandate that state and federal offices providing public assistance make individuals aware of their respective state’s voter ID mandate.

The law would also require that states offer people the opportunity to obtain a photo ID free of charge.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org

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Chris Butler is Watchdog.org's Tennessee reporter. Chris has awards from the Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press as well as the Louisiana Press Association. The Drudge Report, FOX News, and Rush Limbaugh have featured or cited his articles. Chris earned a bachelor's degree from Louisiana Tech University and a master's degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Click the icons below to follow Chris on Facebook and Twitter.