Tennessee’s Supreme Court upheld a voter photo identification law on Thursday, deciding unanimously that because the state law included an exception for those voters who are “indigent and unable to obtain proof of identification without payment of a fee,” it did not impose an undue burden. But the court acknowledged that in-person voter fraud is rare and has only been “documented in other parts of the country” — not in Tennessee.
The state law was enacted in 2011. After local libraries began issuing free photo identification cards, the GOP-controlled state legislature amended the law in April to exclude these as a valid form of voter identification. The high court said that even this more-restrictive requirement was acceptable, because the law allows voters to get a free voter ID card with certain proof of identity.
The sort of voter impersonation fraud that would be prevented by photo ID laws is virtually non-existent in the United States. Numerous studies have shown that one is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit voter fraud. Additionally, photo ID requirements statistically put the greatest burden on low-income and minority voters.