Clarksville, TN – For as long as I can remember New Years Day has always been a time for reflection, resolutions and change. But as we usher in the 2012 New Year, quality of life changes are not the only things we all need to consider.
January 1st, 2012 also brought with it the installation of the new Tennessee Voter Photo ID Law. The new law requires all people to show a valid state or federal government-issued photo ID in order to vote at the polls.
Regardless of political party affiliation, without the proper photo ID, you won’t be able to vote for anyone during the election season this includes National, State or Local elections such as the President, school board, city council, congress or House of Representatives both federal and state levels, etc.Laws like these are popping up across the nation and are being met with arguments and lawsuits challenging whether it is even legal to require people to have photo id’s in order to vote. Some have stated that it may be unconstitutional as well or really just a flash back to the Jim Crow era when the powers that be used hidden poll taxes to stop or limit a group of people from voting.
Never the less the law is still the law and until these challanges reach the supreme court and are decided upon you must show a valid state or federal government-issued photo ID in order to vote at the polls.
Recently the Tennessee Urban Resource Center held an educational community forum on the new TN – Voter Photo ID Law at the Clarksville – Montgomery County Public Library.
Guest speakers and presenters were Montgomery County Administrator of Elections Ms. Vickie Koelman, TN State Senator Tim Barnes (D), TN State Representative Joe Pitts (D), and TN State Executive Committee Members for the Republican Party, Pat Allen, Wayne Oldham and Gene Lewis Chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party. The moderator of the forum was Mrs. Wanda McMoore
Each panelist was provided the opportunity to present information on the new law then the floor was opened up for questions from the audience.
Montgomery County Administrator of Elections Ms. Vickie Koelman who works under the supervision of the Tennessee State Election Commission and the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office give a very powerful and comprehensive PowerPoint presentation that is being shown at town hall meeting and forums across the state of Tennessee in an effort to education voters on the new TN-Voter Photo ID Law.
The following is information from her presentation as provide by the state, county, election commission offices and the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.
Beginning January 1st, 2012, all voters must present an ID, meeting the requirements below, containing the voter’s name and photograph, whether voting early or on Election Day.
Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired
- Tennessee drivers license with your photo,
- United States Passport,
- Department of Safety photo ID
- Photo ID issued by the federal or state government, such as an employee ID from the U.S. Department of Energy with your photo,
- United States Military photo ID, including a Veteran Identification Card, or
- State-issued handgun carry permit card with your photo
What forms of photo ID are NOT acceptable?
- A college student photo ID
- A photo ID not issued by the federal or state government, such as your discount club or bank card with your photo
Who is exempt?
- Voters who vote absentee by mail (view requirements at www.tn.gov/sos/election/bymail.htm)
- Voters who are residents in a licensed nursing home or assisted living center and who vote at the facility
- Voters who are hospitalized
- Voters with a religious objection to being photographed
- Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee
What if I don’t bring a photo ID to the polling place?
- If you don’t bring a photo ID, you will vote a provisional ballot.
- You will then have until two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID.
What if I don’t have a photo ID?
- You may obtain a free photo ID to vote from the Department of Safety at any participating driver service center across the state. You will need a voter registration card, proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate), and two proofs of Tennessee residency (such as a copy of a utility bill, vehicle registration/title, or bank statement).
- If you do not have a photo on your driver’s license and no other form of valid photo ID, the Department of Safety will reissue your license with your photo for free upon request.
- You may use the “express service” line at the driver service center to obtain your photo ID to minimize wait times.
- NOTE: If you already have a valid government-issued photo ID, the Department of Safety will not issue a free photo ID to you.
- Visit the Department of Safety website at www.tn.gov/safety/photoids.shtmlfor more information.
Where can I find out more information?
- Call or visit your county election commission, 350 Pageant Lane, Suite 404, Clarksville or call 931.648.5707 or
- Visit their website at www.mcgtn.org/election/photo-id-law
- Or state website at www.tn.gov/sos/election/index.htm
Please notify your county election commission if your address changes.
Montgomery County Administrator of Elections Vickie Koelman