MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Tennessee Supreme Court said Thursday it will take up the challenge to the state's voter identification law and has ordered election officials to accept Memphis photo library cards at the polls.
The Supreme Court ordered Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins to advise the Shelby County Election Commission to accept the library IDs for Tuesday's election.
Goins issued a statement saying the commission has been told to accept the library IDs, but said he's "confident the Supreme Court will confirm our interpretation" when it hears the case.
"We continue to believe the General Assembly clearly intended for only state- or federally-issued photo IDs to be valid for the purposes of identifying voters," he said.
Hargett and Goins last week appealed a Court of Appeals decision that upheld the voter identification law they have championed because it also ruled that the library cards were government-issued photo IDs and were to be considered as valid "evidence of identification" at the polls.
The state officials contend that the state's new law requiring voters present photo IDs does not apply to the Memphis library cards.
After the Supreme Court appeal request was filed, the election officials contended that it stayed the appeals court order and made those who showed the library card during early voting cast a provisional ballot, which might not be counted on Election Day. Lawyers for the City of Memphis responded with a cease and desist letter to Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper that said state election officials were in defiance of a court order and the City of Memphis would go to court if the provisional ballot policy didn't stop.
Thursday is the last day of early voting for the general election.
The case began when the City and two voters who lacked photo ID and cast provisional ballots during the August primary sued to stop the voter ID law that took effect this year. After losing in state court, the City of Memphis went to the state Court of Appeals.
In its Oct. 25 ruling, the appeals court cited Tennessee case law in finding that the city of Memphis is a branch of the state, so the library card, which was redesigned this year to include a photo, is enough to prove identity.