Tennessee Rep: Students Aren’t the “Right People” for Voting

March 22, 2013

Tennessee made news last year for passing a restrictive photo ID bill that explicitly excluded student IDs. It’s in the news again after one politician suggested we should flat-out block student voters from participating in our democracy.

In a positive change of heart this month, the Tennessee Senate passed a bipartisan bill to include student IDs issued by the state’s public universities as acceptable forms of identification to vote. But a Tennessee House committee gutted the bill this week and removed the student ID provision.

Outrageously, Republican State Rep. Jeremy Durham proclaimed that “there’s a public policy good in making sure that the right people are voting.” [emphasis added]

The law is crystal clear: Students have the fundamental right to vote wherever they call home. Students at the University of Tennessee Knoxville — where a full 89 percent of students come from within Tennessee — and their parents should take note that their legislators don’t believe these students are “the right people” to exercise their constitutionally-protected rights.

Our representatives’ job is to ensure every eligible citizen can participate in our great democracy, not to pick and choose who is allowed to vote for their own partisan gain. Having free, fair, and accessible elections means that every Tennessean should have their voice heard — and every eligible voter is the right kind of voter.

Photo by pennstatenews.