Memphis Library Cards Will Count as Valid ID at Polls

PHOTO: Poll worker Richard Iliff checks a voters photo identification against computer records during early voting on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, in Brentwood, Tenn. A new state law requires voters to show a government-issued photo ID at polling places.
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Tennessee voters will be able to show Memphis library cards to cast ballots in the upcoming November election.

A Tennessee appeals court ruled on Thursday that a state requirement that voters must show photo identification is valid, but said the library cards are acceptable.

The Secretary of State plans to appeal the ruling, a spokesman told Reuters.

Early voting is already underway in Tennessee, and "this is like changing the rules at halftime of a football game," the spokesman said, adding that they are pleased that the overall constitutionality of the law was upheld.

Republican lawmakers across the country from Pennsylvania to Kansas have said that voter ID laws help prevent voter fraud. Voter fraud is almost nonexistent, however.

Democrats have argued that the laws disproportionately impact minority voters and the elderly, who they say often have trouble obtaining the necessary ID. While the IDs are free, gathering the documents to apply for one can be costly, and many ID issuing offices are only open for limited hours. According to 2010 Census data, about 28 percent of Memphis residents are white, compared with 63 percent who are black, and about 7 percent who consider themselves Latino.

The attorney who challenged the constitutionality of the law told Reuters on Thursday that the ruling is a partial victory. He said he interprets the ruling to mean that library cards from cities statewide, not just Memphis, will satisfy the photo ID requirement.

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