A law known simply as “the photo identification” law was one of several topics of discussion at a recent seminar attended by the state’s election officials, including Dennis Stanley, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections.
In addition, Stanley was one of the speakers at the two-day seminar and his lesson on media relations will now be part of the training program for newly-appointed administrators.
“Obviously, the new photo I.D. law was hot topic of discussion,” Stanley said, “and election officials had many questions relating to the measure, which passed this year and will go into effect January 1, 2012.”
Beginning with all elections held next year, voters will be required to produce a government issued photo I.D. before they will be allowed to vote on the voting machine. If no photo identification is provided, the voter will vote a provisional ballot and the voter will have two business days to return to the election commission office and show a valid photo I.D. or the ballot will be rejected.
Stanley said there are two exceptions to the I.D. requirement. The voter can sign an oath stating he/she is indigent or an oath stating a religious objection to being photographed. After signing the oath, the voter will vote on the machines.
Also, the law does not apply to voters who vote absentee, are hospitalized or in a licensed nursing home.
A valid photo I.D. includes a Tennessee driver’s license, U.S. passport, Department of Safety photo I.D. card, state or federal employee photo identification card, a photo I.D. card issued by the federal government or other state and a U.S. military photo I.D.
“Keep in mind,” Stanley said, “a college photo I.D. is not considered a valid I.D. for voting purposes.”
To assist voters who do not currently have a proper photo I.D., the Department of Safety will issue an I.D. for voting purposes only at no charge beginning next month (July 1).
“Under a separate bill that passed the legislature, a voter can go to the Department of Safety (driver’s license stations) and sign an affidavit stating the requested photo I.D. is for voting, that he/she is a registered voter and the voter does not have a valid government issued photo I.D. card for voting. Once the form is signed, the department will issue the photo at no charge,” Stanley said.
Much more information will be released well in advance of next year’s elections, he said.