published Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The voter-ID card scam

Rising public anger, concern and frustration with the state's new voter photo-ID law was entirely predictable — and as a needless as the law itself.

Voter fraud, the Republicans' pretext for passing the law in Tennessee and a number of other newly Republican-controlled state Legislatures, is and has been exceedingly rare in Tennessee and most states.

The law's main effect, and chief partisan political purpose, is that it will likely disenfranchise many Democratic-leaning voters -- mainly seniors, minorities and lower-income citizens -- who simply have never obtained a qualified photo-ID document, such as a photo-driver's license or passport, because they have never needed to get one. They ride buses, or they are aged or home-bound, or their old driver's license let them opt out of a photo when they reached the age of 60.

But if they fail to get a bona fide voter ID card before the next election, the law, akin a poll tax, will disenfranchise them. If they go to the polls without a qualified photo-ID, their old standby voter registration card, even if their signature matches the one on that card and on the precinct match list, won't be good enough to let them cast a ballot.

Fortunately, county election commissions officials and voter register advocates here and elsewhere in the state have begun campaigns to alert voters to the requirements of the law, and to help them meet those rules, which can be onerous and time-consuming.

The advocates' work is needed. As a report by this paper's Ansley Haman confirmed Tuesday, many voters yet do not know about the new law. Joe Rowe, a veteran grass-roots worker in minority affairs, is among those helping start the Hamilton County Voter Empowerment Team to aid churches and civic organizations reach qualified voters who need help to get a qualified voter ID. His view is that the new law is a throwback to the pre-civil rights era "in terms of empowerment, jobs and justice."

"All you have to do is go to the bus lines and see people without driver's licenses," Rowe asserted.

"People don't realize this is a law," said Hamilton County Election administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. She added, "Nobody can tell me there was voter fraud in Hamilton County."

State lawmakers -- under strong criticism regarding the law and pressure from a state attorney general's adverse ruling -- did finally agree to make a state driver's license ID free for the purposes of voting just before they passed the law. Even so, the process for many voters is still a barrier to voting.

To obtain a free driver's license photo-ID, residents must travel to a state driver's license center -- less than half of Tennessee's 95 counties have one. There, they must produce proof of citizenship, such as a certified birth certificate or qualified federal confirmation, as well as a voter's registration card, and two documents that confirm residency, such as a current utility bill or bank statement.

Then they must wait in lines that can take hours for regular driver's license applicants to pass through. One st ate official claimed that express lines would be available for free photo-ID licenses for voters.

There's great irony, and blatant disregard of voters' rights, in this process, which the state says will cost an additional $438,100 this year. It would be far simpler, and cheaper, for people who already possess a voter's registration, and also those seek one, to go directly to their friendly local county Election Commission and obtain a photo-ID registration card. Those who already have a valid voter registration card -- the same documents are required -- could simply swap their old card for a new one.

State officials, however, claim it is too expensive to give each of the state's counties a photo-ID card machine. That's baloney. They very obviously just do not want to make it easy for certain voters to register or to update their existing registration card.

Regardless of one's politics, this is gross and unjust interference and tampering with a citizen's right to vote. The law should be changed.

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dabbscr said...

"is that it will likely disenfranchise many Democratic-leaning voters -- mainly seniors, minorities and lower-income citizens They very obviously just do not want to make it easy for certain voters to register or to update their existing registration card." excuse me, but though Liberals and Democrats were against profiling? Everyone should have some form of ID anyway if nothing more than for medical emergencies.

August 24, 2011 at 1:14 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

opt out and registration with a z, above, need some checking.

The voter registration law is another Republican attempt at suppressing the true opinion of the people in favor of stealthpac payoffs, money laundering and graft. Repeal this law before it is too late.

I'm surprised that Republicans aren't shouting about how The Founding Fathers didn't require a photo ID. Oh, wait, I forgot: they're on the Koch brothers' payroll. No wonder they don't care about anything other than their money.

Greed and tyranny, not invented, but franchised, by the Republican party.

August 24, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.

It seems to me that those who are always oppossed to photo ID for voting, or other forms of documentation proving citizenship, are all Democrats or on the left. The opposition to it is often very harsh and overblown. Why so worked up? Makes me wonder.

328Kwebsite,

Your comments are ridiculous! Those often mentioned boogie men, the Koch Brothers, are probably to blame for the earthquake too, right?

Need a tissue? You're foaming at the mouth. Yeesh!

August 24, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
EaTn said...

The current state legislation intent is basically to solidify their right wing control--call it disenfranchise or whatever . For them to try to pass it off otherwise is to insult most everyone's intelligence.

August 24, 2011 at 3:23 p.m.
hambone said...

I've lived in the same house for 32 years, and I've had my voter registration card just as long and thats all I've ever needed to vote.

But in order to get a free photo ID I can just show my voter registration card.

What a dumb law passed by a dumb legistlature.

August 24, 2011 at 9:41 p.m.
dabbscr said...

what's the matter democrats? don't like the fact that the illegal immigrants can't vote in your favor? like I stated above everyone needs some form of I.D. anyway if nothing more than for medical emergencies. people come in to hospitals all the time and no one knows who they are.

August 25, 2011 at 5:03 a.m.
Walden said...

Sorry to break up your voter fraud ring Dems. Anyone too lazy to obtain a state-issued ID card shouldn't be allowed to vote.

August 25, 2011 at 1:09 p.m.
ITguy said...

The law is unconstitutional. It is clearly designed to suppress voter turn out. We have been voting for over two hundred years without photo IDs.

August 25, 2011 at 10:10 p.m.
dabbscr said...

to ITguy, we may have been voting for over 200 years, but not allowing ILLEGAL persons to vote. Now that is unconstitutional.

August 26, 2011 at 12:54 a.m.
woodbutcher11 said...

You have a photo on your driving license, why not prove who you are when you vote, unless you have some thing to hide. Just to keep the voting honest and you only vote once. It sperate the honest from the crooked voters.

January 8, 2012 at 12:51 p.m.
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