Photo ID Required To Vote: Where’s the Problem?
In a press conference yesterday Sen. Bill Ketron, chief proponent of the new law that will require all eligible voters in Tennessee to show a photo ID to vote, touted the case of an ex-felon who never properly had his voting rights restored as proof that the new law is necessary. From the Tennessean:
Ketron…provided a copy of documentation showing that Pegel [current local Democratic Party Vice Chairman Tony Pegel] had been convicted of robbery April 30, 1984, and was granted final release by April 30, 1994, from incarceration or supervision by the Board of Probation/Parole, the Department of Correction, or county corrections authorities, according to the Tennessee Division of Election.
Pegel was still on probation from his 1984 conviction when he registered to vote in 1992, and a former Election Commission staff member accepted his application, Rutherford County Election Administrator Nicole Lester said.
“He was mistakenly put on as a registered voter April 1, 1992,” said Lester, noting that was two years before Pegel should have been able to restore his voting rights.
She said Pegel did list that he was a convicted felon on his application but failed to provide required details about what crimes he’d committed or if he had restored his voting rights.
Leaving aside the fact that Mr. Pegel filled out his voter registration form correctly by checking the box to admit he had been a felon and that it was the election officials who made the mistake, it’s evident that this type of case is not a problem that the new photo ID law will solve. Felons and ex-felons are not prohibited by law from obtaining a government issued photo ID, like a drivers license.
Perhaps it would be better to focus on the real source of the problem. Perhaps a a real solution would be to make sure that election officials have a thorough process in place to address this scenario including cross referencing voter rolls with felony convictions and simplifying the laws that govern how and when an ex-felons can get their right to vote back.
So what is the problem that requiring a photo ID to vote will solve? We’re still looking…