Tennessee students lose voter ID challenge

| America Blog | December 22, 2015

A US district court in Tennessee dismissed a challenge to the state’s voter ID law yesterday, ruling that the state is not imposing an undue or discriminatory burden on students by failing to include student and out-of-state IDs in its list of acceptable forms of voter ID.

From Courthouse News:

 The Nashville Student Organizing Committee and nine students sued Tennessee election officials in March, arguing the state’s voter ID law “intentionally discriminates against out-of-state college and university students, and has the purpose and effect of denying and abridging the right to vote on account of age” because it excludes student IDs and out-of-state IDs at the polls.

“Out-of-state students with other states’ driver’s licenses or ID cards cannot readily comply with the voter ID law and must either forego voting, vote absentee in their prior state, or undergo the arduous process of applying for an identification license at a driver service center,” the lawsuit claimed. “The voter ID law clearly favors in-state student voters over out-of-state student voters.”

It also favors non-students over students, more generally. Under Tennessee’s voter ID law, an expired gun permit is considered to be an acceptable way to prove one’s identity at the polls, but a valid Virginia drivers license is not. Student IDs are specifically excluded from the list, while faculty IDs from state universities are valid. Given that the sole goal of a voter ID law — according to the state’s own website — is to prove that the voter is who they say they are, this doesn’t make any sense. But since our right to vote is negative, not affirmative, it doesn’t have to. States are free to regulate (read: restrict) the right to vote as they see fit, so long as plaintiffs can’t prove discriminatory intent against a protected demographic.

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