Justin Jones first visited the state Capitol as a Fisk University student more than 10 years ago to ask lawmakers to allow college students to use student ID cards to verify identity at the polls.
Now, as one of Nashville's newest state Representatives, Jones has made the issue one of his top priorities this year.
“It's very troubling that you can use a gun permit to vote, but you can't use a student ID card,” Jones told Main Street Nashville.
State law passed in 2011 requires all voters to show photo identification at the polls in order to cast a ballot. The law permits voters to present driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, photo IDs issued by the state or federal government, U.S. military IDs and handgun carry permits with a photo — but specifically prohibits the use of student ID cards.
Jones says he is planning to introduce legislation this year to add student IDs to the list of approved forms of voter identification.
“At public institutions like Tennessee State or Middle Tennessee State University, if you're a faculty or staff, you can use your school ID to vote because it's considered a state ID,” Jones says. “But students cannot use their IDs because of how the law is crafted — even though they're made by the same machine.”
Tennessee is one of seven states that requires voters to present a photo ID and does not permit the use of student IDs, according to the Campus Vote Project.
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