(Chattanooga Times Free Press)
Swept up in the craze of preventing widespread voter fraud that doesn’t actually exist, Tennessee Republicans passed a voter identification law this year that they claimed would put an end to fraud and ensure fair elections. Like similar laws in other states, Tennessee’s version has come under scrutiny from voting rights advocates, civil rights groups like the NAACP and ACLU, and even Democratic senators, who oppose the laws because they will disenfranchise poor, elderly, and minority voters who are less likely to have photo IDs.
The state now has evidence that that will be the case. Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old Chattanooga resident who says she has voted in every election but one since she became eligible to vote, wanted to ensure she’d have the necessary ID to vote in next year’s elections, when Tennessee’s law goes into effect. But when she went to apply for the ID, she was denied, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports:
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.
“I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.
This is, of course, a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as racial minorities, students, and the poor. According to this report, up to five million Democratic voters could be affected. And all without any evidence of significant voter fraud at all.
Coincidentally, my 85-year-old mother was turned away when she tried to renew her drivers license this week, because she didn't have enough forms of ID to prove who she was. (Her existing license, and the fact that she's had a license from this state for longer than I've been alive, wasn't good enough.)
If that had been just voter identification, she wouldn't have bothered going back. Let's face it, American voter participation is bad enough as it is. If you make people jump through more hoops, you'll discourage voting. And that's exactly what the Republicans are trying to do.