First, after January 1, 2012, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office, you will have to have a valid photo ID to vote. That means you must have a drivers license, state issued ID card, passport, or military ID to vote using a normal ballot (or machine as the case may be). Any other kind of ID will mean you’ll have to do a provisional ballot and then prove your identity within 4 business days of the election to have that vote count.
Another bill that passed is SB 1666, which provides free ID cards for registered voters. The legislature rightly noted that passing an ID law without creating some avenue to receive an ID free of cost is essentially a poll tax, or at least that’s what the US Supreme Court has held. By providing free ID’s the state avoids the possibility of having the voter ID bill ruled unconstitutional.
Starting Friday July 1st, any registered voter that does not have a current valid photo ID can go to a Driver Service Center Location and get a free ID card for the purposes of voting.
In addition to all that, the voter must sign an affidavit saying they meet these conditions:
(1) Does not have a valid government issued photo identification;
(2) Is a registered voter in this state; and
(3) Needs the photo identification license for voting purposes.
That’s a pretty tall order for folks who can’t afford or don’t have an ID in the first place, don’t you think?
Currently, the ID requirements to vote are pretty low. You only need a voter registration card, Driver’s license, or state issued id, or two of the items in this list.
Now that the state will soon be requiring a photo ID, after January 1, 2012 the bar will be twice as hard as it is now, which will, no doubt come as a surprise to some voters in the March Presidential Preference election.
I spoke with an official at the TN Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security, the agency that issues Driver’s licenses and ID cards, and they said that as of right now there is not a PDF of the affidavit available online. Maybe that will be forthcoming in the next few days. They also said that at some point in the future, people seeking a state issued ID will not be able to leave the office with it, rather it will be mailed to them. So, for instance, if you forgot to renew your license or need a new photo and go to the office to get it, you’ll have to wait for the US mail to deliver it, which will suck if your renewal date is near election day.
There are a whole lot more questions about this free ID law as well as the ID voting requirements. The ultimate consequences will not be known until the first part comes into effect on Friday. That said, I would suggest that anyone who doesn’t have a state issued ID now, and wants to vote take advantage of the free ID system asap. There’s no telling what regulatory changes will take place between now and January. The sooner you have your ID in order, the easier it will be to ensure you can vote in 2012.
Even though the State Legislature probably won’t tackle redistricting until next year, right now is the time to start thinking about it. Wednesday night, my buddy and blogfather, Leftwingcracker and I talked to the Germantown Democratic Club about this and other topics.
As the CA and other outlets reported last week, Shelby County, and Memphis in particular, hasn’t kept pace with the rest of the state population wise. Not even a little bit. That means there’s going to be some radical changes with the next district maps, and it isn’t going to be good for our Democratic Representatives and Senators in Nashville.
Below is a graphic that includes the current House and Senate Districts in Shelby county.
Based on the work of Nashville Blogger Sean Braisted, it’s looking like Big Shelby is going to lose two House Seats and 1 Senate Seat.
If you look at the numbers on his post, every Democratic seat in Shelby Co., with the exception of HD85 has lost population since 2000. By contrast, the only Republican held seat to lose population is HD97 held by Jim Coley. But they’re not going to draw him out. Nope, we’re probably going to see some Democrats put in the same district, and that’s not going to be good for the party as a whole, or the county.
I wrote about this possibility back in May of 2009, and it looks like my suspicions were right on target.
The only possible consolation that may come of all this is that one Republican district in east Shelby may have to become a little more blue. All that depends on how they draw the districts, and I’ll guarantee you, they won’t do that until they absolutely have to.
With huge majorities in the House and the Senate, Republicans run redistricting. This means that not only are our state legislators going to have a lot of new ground to cover, but so will our Congressman, Steve Cohen.
What this requires is some serious organizing all over the county. Some areas are better at it than others, but every single precinct has to get it together to drive out the vote in 2012. We can’t rely on Obama, or anyone else to do it for us, not that they won’t be working their butts off anyway. We have to take charge of the situation and get it done for ourselves.
This weekend is the SDCP reorganization. It’ll be held at American Way Middle School on 3805 American Way. If you are a registered voter in Shelby County and care about electing people who carry the Democratic banner, please attend.
Even if you don’t want to be a delegate or serve on the SCDP executive committee, just show up to show your support. You’ll meet Democrats from all over the county, and at the very least, have the chance to meet some folks from your own district you may have never met before.
Registration starts at 9am. You must be registered or in line for registration by 10:30 am to participate.
Hope to see you there.