What new voter ID law means for mayoral election

By: Mario Boone Email
By: Mario Boone Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Early voting for Knoxville city elections begins Wednesday morning. Local elections workers want to get the word out that the state's new voter ID law will not affect you this year. Still, they say it's not too early to learn what you'll need when the controversial law takes effect.

Currently, to cast a ballot in Tennessee you need only show up at the polls with your registration card. But the controversial new law will change that come next January. At that time, you can only vote if you have a valid state or federal picture ID. This includes a driver's license or Tennessee identification card.

It's worth repeating, though, the new law will not affect early voting which starts Wednesday. "And that's the main thing I want your viewers to know, that it does not apply to either this primary, or this general election," said Cliff Rodgers.

Proponents of voter ID say it will ensure the principle of one person one vote. But the law has its detractors, not the least of which is the NAACP. Its president and CEO Ben Jealous issued a statement saying, "these bills, which have been compared to poll taxes, are a viciously effective way to disqualify voters."

Rodgers, the Knox County elections administrator, is starting early informing voters how to comply with the new ID requirement. "They'll be able to get a free ID from the TN Department of Safety."

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