NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP, abc24.com) - Tennessee's new voter identification law allows most state and federally issued IDs to be used to vote, including work IDs issued to the faculty and staff of state-run
colleges. But the student IDs issued at those same schools are specifically prohibited.
That has caused some students to believe they are being targeted by the law, which takes effect in January.
"I think this is intended to keep in check the main people who voted our current president in," Christopher Martin, vice president of Tennessee Federation of College Democrats and a junior at Tennessee State University, told The Tennessean. "It's crazy that they can use the faculty ID but we can't use the student ID."
State Rep. Debra Maggart, R-Hendersonville, was one of the bill's sponsors. She said allowing students at state universities to use their IDs would be unfair to those who attend private universities. She also said she was concerned about fraud.
"The main intent of the law is to make sure that people are not lying about who they are," Maggart said. "I don't know if anyone sells faculty IDs, but I do know they're selling college IDs for students on the Internet."
A lot of focus has been put on educating senior citizens about the new law, but little emphasis so far has been put on educating college students, some of whom may not be aware they won't be able to use their student IDs to vote.
"We need to be working with campus organizations," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said this week. "We have that in our plans. We might also need to reach out to high school students."
Meanwhile campus political activists are working to educate their fellow students about the ID requirement.
"Voting is the greatest blessing we have in America, and it's especially important for college students," said Stephen Siao, state chairman of Tennessee College Republicans and president of its Vanderbilt affiliate.
Siao, a junior, said his group will be offering free rides to driver service centers next month to any Vanderbilt student who lacks a picture ID, regardless of their party affiliation.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)