Tennesseans would have to produce photo identification to vote under a bill passed Monday night by the state Senate.
Murfreesboro Senator Bill Ketron swatted down a half-dozen amendments that would have made it easier for old people or poor people without photo identification to vote.
Ketron says a few people will encounter slight inconvenience, but that is necessary to maintain the value of the vote cast by legitimate citizens.
“This is a new day in America. Since 9/11… the photo ID. Even just last week, UPS came out with a new ruling that says you can’t even mail a package without a photo ID.”
Ketron says he is trying to catch felons who illegally register to vote.
The legislation passed the Senate 21-11, with Nashville Democrat Doug Henry joining Republicans in voting for the bill. The voter ID measure is still in committee in the state House.
Ketron continued to insist that requiring voter photo IDs would help keep ineligible felons from voting.
Senator Roy Herron, a Democrat from Dresden, says Ketron is wrong.
“There are felons all over this state who have drivers’ licenses. Requiring a photo ID will not … reduce the number of felons voting.”
However, Ketron points to a “compact” of 13 states which share lists of convicted felons. He says his bill will help clean voter rolls of such felons.
Ketron: I would rather stop 2,000 convicted felons voting, versus the problems that we’re gonna have.
Reporter: How does a photo ID, a requirement for a photo ID, stop a convicted felon, who’s registered under his own name, from voting?
Ketron: Well, it’s gonna be on that list, with that compact. Those lists are going to be distributed, but if he has a photo ID, and it really identifies who he is, then, each election commission is going to have that list of those convicted felons so they can’t vote.
Reporter: But they’d be able to tell who he was when he signed his name…wouldn’t they?
Ketron: We don’t know….”
Ketron cited this case from Putnam County:
“The election registrar came up to me after the State and Local Government Committee last week, after this vote, and said that a list came across his desk. And the lady had been working in the election office in Cookeville, for over 20 years, and voted in over 40 elections. Her name was on the list. They couldn’t believe it. But it was her. She was a convicted felon. So unless they steal an ID, that photo ID will be able to determine, is this the correct person? Is that their picture?”
Last week the Putnam County registrar said that the woman had been allowed to retire and was not prosecuted. Her offense, 20 years before, had been a drug felony, he said.
The registrar did not claim that the case had anything to do with photo IDs.