UPDATE: Memphis officials appeal to federal court on library card voter ID

Memphis is asking a federal judge in Nashville, Tenn., to allow library cards with photo ID as acceptable identification under the state’s new voter ID law.

The city and Memphis resident Daphne Turner-Golden Tuesday asked for a restraining order to stop election officials from denying use of a public library photo ID.

The city asserts the cards should be sufficient, but Mark Goins, the state election coordinator, has said they are not. The law requires IDs to be issued by the state or federal government; a city ID would not suffice.

The city administration was motivated to create a way for residents to get photo identification after a former city employee died from heat-related causes last summer. He was not able to get electricity or other utilities because he could not show a photo ID.

Library cards satisfy the photo voter ID requirement because they are issued by an “entity of the state,” city attorney Herman Morris Jr., said in a statement.

“When they passed that law that said you had to have a photo ID by a state entity or
a federal entity, but it didn’t really have to be an entity that you’re in or that you’re
voting in,” Morris said. “It could be a fishing license from the state of Alaska that
expired 10 years ago.”

At least 300 people got the new cards in the first weekend; 200 were renewals, according to a city official.

By Kassondra Cloos, News21

Coffee Break Ballot, July 20: Current Trends in Voting Rights

Election-centered presumptions about voting rights news didn’t take into account the effect a well-placed, well-sourced report can have.

The Washington Post, NPR, the Huffington Post, Reuters, Yahoo!News and the New York Times (today in a lengthy front-page news profile) have referenced and sampled the Brennan Center for Justice study on the difficulties faced by voters who don’t have photo ID as they try to obtain proper identification before the November election.

We’ve enjoyed watching this report spread, and we are definitely impressed by the way well-placed stories can take an issue like voting rights from the realms of political wonks to a more general audience. We’re hope for a similar spread when our project appears next month.

What We’ve Been Reading

Legal Battles Erupt Over Tough Voter ID Laws,” (Ethan Bronner, 07/19, New York Times)

AARP Says Senior Voters Will Suffer From Voter-ID Law,” (Randy LoBasso, 07/20, PhillyNOW)

Colorado election watchers see officials chipping away at public oversight,” (John Tomasic, The Colorado Independent)

Iowa elections chief seeks to prove voter fraud,” (Ryan J. Foley, 07/14, Associated Press)

Section 5 challenges reach Court,” (Lyle Denniston, 07/20, SCOTUSBlog)

Voter suppression — Round 2 in the debate on ID laws,” (Leonard Pitts, Jr., 07/20, Miami Herald)

Twitter Trends

We’re expecting a considerable boost next week when columnists, writers and journalists react to the Supreme Court arrival of two petitions that challenge Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and additional push back from conservative supporters of photo voter ID legislation.

But it’s Friday, and half the News21 newsroom is on the way out of Phoenix. So we’ll join them over some ice cream, and we’ll be back next week.

Remember to follow us @WhoCanVote.

Coffee Break Ballot, July 16: Current Trends in Voting Rights

We’re already big fans of the New York Times‘ Nate SIlver, whose Five Thirty Eight blog has gained a following for its statistical election predictions.

So when Silver tweeted a post, offering his numbers-heavy analysis measuring predictable effects of photo voter ID laws on voter turnout, we were intrigued.

His post is making the rounds around the Twitterverse, with some regular followers in the News21 newsroom tweeting, retweeting and commenting on the post.

It points out that much of the rhetoric on both sides is moot when statistics and raw data are taken into account. That’s one of several numbers-heavy pieces we’ve been looking at this morning.

What We’ve Been Reading

Measuring the Effects of Voter Identification Laws,” (Nate Silver, 07/15, The New York Times)

Will Voter ID Laws Cost Obama Reelection?” (Nate Cohn, 07/16, The New Republic)

Voter ID is a hot topic, but will Alabama’s ID law stop election fraud?” (Tim Lockette, 07/15, Anniston Star)

Rick Scott: Other states can purge voter rolls,” (Kevin Robillard, 07/16, Politico)

HUSKEY: Showing ID is common, effective,” (Stan Huksey, 07/15, The Times Herald)

Ballot fraud retrial gets into details,” (Kenneth C. Crowe II, 07/11, Rochester Times-Union)

Photo IDs may be inconvenient, but they help prevent voter fraud,” (Robert Bennett, 07/16, The Deseret News)

Florida Decides Poll: Gov. Rock Scott’s low approval ratings,” (Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, 07/15, Florida13 News)

Twitter Trends

After the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles released data suggesting more than 700,000 registered voters could lack required photo voter ID under the state’s new law, we’ve been waiting for the conservative pushback. That commentary came today.

One of the most buzzed about items today came from the Daily Caller, which has repackaged a story from the Rochester (N.Y.) Times-Union about a local election fraud trial in which a Democratic city council candidate testified that voter fraud was a “reality of both parties” in the state.

The fraud in question is ballot fraud – not voter impersonation –  which photo voter ID laws would not solve. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t provided ammunition for supporters of photo voter ID legislation.

It’s definitely buzz-worthy, and it meets the criteria for popular tweets — it features a member of the Democratic party admitting that fraud happens, regularly, giving supporters something talk about.

It’s also the kind of detail-orientated story that could prompt real conversation about election administration, but that’s not how Twitter is generally used.

Follow our reporters @DoubleOChen and @JoeHenke as they report from the National Association of Secretaries of State Convention this week in Puerto Rico, and as always, follow us @WhoCanVote for the latest updates on voting rights news and trends.

Tennessee transit service offers rides to patrons seeking photo ID

The Transit Authority in Jackson, Tenn., is offering $1 roundtrip bus rides to the driver’s testing center for those who need a photo ID.

The bus route does not usually serve the testing center, transit general manager Johnny Gullett said, and the service will continue until Aug. 31.

“We heard that anybody who was going to vote in the upcoming election had to have a picture ID, a state issued or federally issued ID, and we thought that was very unfair,” Gullett said.

The service began in March, and Gullett estimates that about 25 people have ridden the bus, although he said he had hoped more would take advantage of the service.

By Kassondra Cloos, News21

John Osborne: Voting worth effort to obtain a photo ID

John Osborne: Voting worth effort to obtain a photo ID

John Osborne is the chairman of the Charleston, S.C., Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Caitlin O'Donnell/News21

John Osborne, chairman of the Charleston, S.C., Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Charleston Young Professionals, said while the South Carolina voter ID measure does not often come up in his conversations, he has made the effort to educate himself about the issue.

Citing the steps necessary to obtain a photo ID, Osborne said he sees the process as relatively easy. He does not know anyone who doesn’t already have a photo ID card, he said.

“If you care about casting your ballot and exercising your right to vote, you’ll take the 30 minutes to get it done,” Osborne said.

By Caitlin O’Donnell, News21