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TN Green Party sues to toss out voter ID law

9:16 AM, Aug 27, 2013   |    comments
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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 and was unable to comment.

The General Assembly passed the voter identification law in 2011, requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. Republicans said the law discourages voter fraud, which Democrats describe as rare.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals upheld the new requirement in a state lawsuit last fall. It ruled that the state legislature had the right to pass laws that protect "the purity of the ballot box" and that asking for photo ID at the polls did 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 presented an insurmountable hurdle to third-party candidates who wanted to see their party affiliation on the ballot.

U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. granted the plaintiffs summary judgment in June, 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.

Contact Michael Cass at 615-259-8838 or

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