Hat-tip to Pith In The Wind, which alerts us to this Chattanooga Times-Free Press article about 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper, who was denied a photo ID which under Tennessee’s new voter ID law she is required to have in order to vote:
The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time.
So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she’d need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.
That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.
“But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.
This woman was able to vote under Jim Crow, but not under the Tennessee Republican legislature. Let that one sink in for a minute.
Oh, and she has a photo ID! Just not one that meets the standards of the State of Tennessee because as I noted earlier, some forms of ID are more equal than others. She has a voter registration card. She has a Social Security card. She has all of her papers except the one thing the Tennessee Republican Party demands she have to exercise her right to vote:
“I’ve been banking at SunTrust for a long time,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll say, well, do you have a Social Security card?”
And she shows it to them. She also has a photo ID issued by the Chattanooga Police Department to all seniors who live in the Boynton Terrace public housing complex, but that won’t qualify for voting.
Shame on Tennessee’s Republican legislature for this blatant abuse of power. Shame on every one of you, crooks and liars to a man and to a woman. You people who can’t get elected unless you erect barriers to the democratic process and deny people their rights? You folks who claim you are “small government” conservatives but use government to erect a wall between senior citizens and the voting booth?
Two words: Fuck you.
Legal question: I know this voter ID law is being challenged (as have others around the country) on a variety of grounds: de facto poll tax, etc. But I just wonder: voting is a right; driving is a privilege. Is there some legal mushiness here, requiring a person to have a form of ID needed to exercise a privilege to exercise a right?
Just wondering if anyone knows. It always annoys me when conservatives say, “You need a license to drive! Well what about that! Huh! HUH?!” But driving is not the same as voting.
There has been lots of pushback from conservatives on this story, most of them along the lines of, “all she needs to do is get her marriage certificate! Problem solved!”
This rather glib and insulting comeback is I’m sure little comfort to a 96-year-old woman who no doubt was married long before most of us were even born, taking into account the vagaries of Tennessee record keeping over the years. Not to mention how offensive it is to millions of us women voters. But regardless, it’s not even factual! It just so happens the marriage certificate is the one document she didn’t have; she showed up to get her ID with…
…a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate…
So, what if she had her marriage certificate but no birth certificate?
Furthermore, saying people over age 60 can vote absentee without the required ID but no one else can just makes no sense. I thought this law was necessary to prevent voter fraud, that’s what all the Republicans kept telling us, at least. Do only people under age 60 commit voter fraud? We only need this law for people under a certain age? Is that even legal? Why don’t we just make the law apply only to black people, how about that? Or, let’s exempt all Christians from this law. How would that work? Of course both would be outrageous.
Here’s a thought: why don’t we enact a National ID law, and just make sure everyone has a picture ID. That would solve this problem. Think conservatives would go for that? Not likely. More likely they’d start fearmongering about black helicopters and other nonsense.