Memphis courtroom could see I.D. debate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis courtroom could see I.D. debate

Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton believes a city-wide photo ID initiative would allow more people to exercise their right to vote.  Officials say library photo ID's don't meet state standards. Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton believes a city-wide photo ID initiative would allow more people to exercise their right to vote. Officials say library photo ID's don't meet state standards.

(WMC-TV) – Another debate over voter I.D. requirements could be headed to a Memphis courtroom.

This time it will be the city of Memphis versus the state of Tennessee in an ongoing battle over what voters must bring to the polls in order to exercise their right to vote.

"I would rather err on the side of getting people to vote than to err on the side of deterring people from voting," stated Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton.

Mayor Wharton believed a city-wide photo ID initiative would allow more people to exercise their right to vote.  But state officials say photo ID's issued at local libraries don't meet state election standards. 

"The effort on the part of government ought to be to get as many to vote," said Wharton, "not to reduce the number of people who can vote and that's why we think acting in accord with the spirit of the law."

Problem is the city and the state interpret the law differently.  And, for now, library photo I.D.'s will not be accepted at the polls unless a judge rules otherwise.

"If they hold in that card show up once voting begins on the 13th and they turned away then I'm certain it will end up in the courts," Wharton stated.

Wharton says since the library program was rolled out, almost 300 photo I.D.'s have been issued.  He says many people underestimate how many Memphians are without identification.

"Let's not play legal technicalities to keep someone away from the polls that's what this is about as far as we're concerned we think people ought to exercise their right to vote we chastise people for not voting and then we begrudgingly throw up barriers when they attempt to exercise that," Wharton stated.

The Shelby County election commission says they can only act as advised by the state election coordinator.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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