By Michael Cass / The Tennessean
The Green Party of Tennessee has filed a federal lawsuit seeking
to throw out Tennessee's voter ID law, calling it unconstitutional and
unfair to minority voters.
Alan Woodruff, an attorney in Gray,
Tenn., who has represented the Green Party in previous lawsuits, said he
filed the complaint Monday morning in the Eastern District of
Tennessee. It names Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and
Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins as defendants.
"There is no
justification for having the photo ID requirement, as there is no such
thing as voter fraud," said Woodruff, who ran unsuccessfully for
Congress last year as the Democratic nominee in the 1st Congressional
District and might run again in 2014. "It's overly burdensome. It
affects minorities and the progressive-leaning voter more than the
typical Republican conservative, and it was intended to."
Blake Fontenay, a spokesman for Hargett and Goins, said he had not seen the lawsuit Monday afternoon and was unable to comment.
General Assembly passed the voter identification law in 2011, requiring
voters to show photo ID at the polls. It took effect in January 2012.
Republicans say the law discourages voter fraud, which Democrats
describe as extremely rare.
The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld
the new requirement in a state lawsuit last fall. It ruled that the
state legislature has the right to pass laws that protect "the purity of
the ballot box" and that asking for photo ID at the polls does not add a
new requirement to voting.
The Green Party of Tennessee and the
Constitution Party of Tennessee filed a suit in federal court in 2011
arguing that the state's election laws present an insurmountable hurdle
to third-party candidates who want to see their party affiliation on the
U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. granted the
plaintiffs summary judgment in June of this year, ruling that state
election laws violated not only smaller parties' First Amendment right
"to associate as a political party" but also the Equal Protection Clause
of the Fourteenth Amendment.