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Proposed Tennessee Voter ID Changes Ignore Students’ Rights

Blog Author: 
Dan Vicuna

Two bills before the Tennessee legislature would reduce the harmful effects of the state’s strict voter ID law, but the reforms do not apply to students. The proposed measures include allowing a state worker to continue to use a state employee ID after retirement and the addition of photos to driver’s licenses for individuals older than 60.

However, there appears to be no relief in sight for the state’s students. Student IDs are explicitly excluded from the list of acceptable voter IDs under Tennessee law: “An identification card issued to a student by an institution of higher education containing a photograph of a student shall not be evidence of identification for purposes of verifying the person’s identification on the application for ballot.”

The legislative snub defies logic because the legislature does not appear to be concerned that there is something about colleges and universities that make their IDs suspicious. In fact, Tennessee’s government website states that employee IDs that state colleges and universities issue are acceptable.

Tennessee’s hostility to students is a familiar theme in the battle over voting rights that has been waged since the beginning of last year. These are just a few examples.

For more information on helping students get voter ID, check out “Get ID” in the CVP toolkit or contact us at


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