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Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014

Photo-ID Bill Ignored Key Issues

Posted Monday, July 11, 2011, at 11:16 AM

(Photo)
By Rep. Craig Fitzhugh.

The United States is the envy of the world because of our open, free and fair elections. Our most sacred right as a people is voting and we must always do whatever is necessary to protect that right.

Unfortunately, in Tennessee, your right to vote has come under attack. This year HB 007, commonly known as the "Photo-ID" bill was passed over the opposition of Representatives from both parties.

It used to be that all you needed to vote was your voter registration card or some other form of valid identification. Now, under HB 007, you will be required to present a photo ID in order to exercise your constitutional right to vote.

On the surface, this doesn't seem like a bad idea. After all, we all want open, free and fair elections, but like so many issues the devil is in the details.

Take for example the impact this legislation will have on rural communities. In Tennessee, only 44% of our counties have a driver's license station. In our district, we only have one station for all three of our counties, while areas like Nashville & Memphis have multiple DMV's. This makes it easier for people in cities to obtain a photo ID and vote, while some people in rural areas will have to travel 30 miles or better just to get an ID.

Think also of the elderly. Those who are 60 years or older no longer have to put a photo on their driver's license. Under HB 007, these individuals are now prohibited from voting.

While debating this bill, I supported several amendments that would have made this legislation much better. One amendment would have allowed senior citizens to use their Medicare or Social Security card to vote if their driver's license didn't have a photograph. Another amendment would have allowed a picture to be placed on your voter registration card. Unfortunately, both of these ideas were rejected by the majority party.

I am not opposed to the idea of photo IDs for voting, but we must put in place protections for our rural voters and, especially, our senior citizens. Because this legislation did not protect these groups, I voted against the bill. Voting is our most sacred right in this country and I will always fight to protect your right to the ballot box.

If you have any questions about this new law or would like to hear more about another issue, please contact my legislative office and we'll get your questions answered as soon as possible. Have a great week!



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