published Friday, December 2nd, 2011

2 Hamilton County commissioners want voter ID law repealed

Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Beck, left, and Commissioner Warren Mackey are asking the Hamilton County Commission to back a repeal of the Tennessee Voter ID law.
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Beck, left, and Commissioner Warren Mackey are asking the Hamilton County Commission to back a repeal of the Tennessee Voter ID law.
Photo by John Rawlston.


Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles began offering free upgrades for those with non-photo driver’s licenses on Oct. 17. Between then and Thursday, about 140 people had taken advantage of that service, he said.

The state Department of Safety is opening its two Hamilton County Driver Services Centers the first Saturday of each month to provide IDs for voting purposes only.

Should the law requiring voters to show photo ID be repealed?

Two Hamilton County commissioners pleaded with other members of their body Thursday to ask the state Legislature to repeal the voter ID law it passed earlier this year.

Though commissioners will not vote on the resolution until Wednesday, they discussed the matter in an agenda session Thursday.

Commissioners Greg Beck and Warren Mackey asked the others to help repeal the law.

The federal government is spending billions of dollars fighting wars in places such as Iraq to give citizens of those countries the right to vote, Beck said. Yet soldiers from Tennessee returning home might see their own grandparents turned away at the polls because they don’t have the proper ID, he said.

“Do you know that it’s easier for old people to vote over [in Iraq] than it is here?” he asked. “It used to be that easy for us to vote.”

Earlier this year, the Tennessee General Assembly enacted a law that requires registered voters to present a photo ID at the polls beginning in 2012. Though the law allows voters to present a driver’s license, about 126,000 Tennessee drivers 60 and older have opted to remove their photos from their licenses. More than 7,000 of those are in Hamilton County, according to state Department of Safety records.

Commissioner Joe Graham said one of his elderly family members had to get a photo ID after a department store wouldn’t allow her to use her charge card without it.

He said progress requires the new law.

Mackey took issue with that point.

“I don’t want to confuse shopping at the mall and showing an ID with the sacred right to vote,” he said.

Some things are a privilege, but voting is a right, he said.

Commissioner Tim Boyd cited statistics he said the state Legislature relied on when it passed the law. Secretary of State Tré Hargett’s office identified 13,000 deceased voters still on the rolls and said 2,300 felons voted in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles, Boyd said.

“That’s an unacceptable statistic,” he said. “I feel like the legislation is probably very justified.”

Commissioners Fred Skillern and Larry Henry also indicated they supported the new state requirement.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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inquiringmind said...

A felon that has paid the price by serving time ought to have his rights restored when released, we do call it rehabilitation. If we reject rehabilitation by structuring laws this way, perhaps there should be only two options - not guilty or life in prison. One of the problems with that (other than the eighth amendment) is soon we would have more folks in jail than out.

All we are doing is making it easier to go back to crime than to turn around. Remember debtor prisons? " We are going to throw you in jail until you pay."

December 2, 2011 at 7:41 a.m.
spktur said...

Maybe the best thing we could do is repeal these two county commissioners. If their relatives don't have enough sense to be able to get a valid photo ID in today's world they probably have no business voting anyway. You can look at our elected officials and see there are a lot of voters who can't pick a decent qualified person for office.

December 2, 2011 at 8:42 a.m.

spktur, please enlighten us and define what's your interpretation of a decent qualified person for office?

December 2, 2011 at 1:15 p.m.
rolando said...

Whatever it is, topsyturvy, it must be better than that VP Biden used to describe then-candidate Obama's qualifications. Remember that one? Something about being "clean, neat, and articulate".

December 2, 2011 at 1:49 p.m.
rolando said...

Ms Haman--

So soon you forget -- or ignore -- the thousands of military members serving overseas who are repeatedly dis-enfranchised every election by election commissions, et al, who refuse to accept their absentee ballots [provided they even received one] just because they were not postmarked with the date -- something the Armed Services Postal Service does not do.

So stop cherry-picking your information and playing the liberal's-friend; just report all the news, please.

In today's world where dead people vote, where the number of votes cast outnumbers the registered voters, where a person with homes in several states cast votes in each, and where anyone without a photo ID can claim they are someone they are not and vote accordingly, complete identification using a state-issued driver's license/Photo ID card is not just essential, it is crucial to ensure a legitimate and credible voting process.

I say anyone who criticizes the Photo ID law on such tenuous grounds as "they can't get there" are on very thin ice. If the voter can get food, own a cell phone, get to a doctor, or anything else indicating mobility, they can certainly get to a Photo ID agency.

Methinks the opposition protests too much. They fear the illegal alien vote, the Chicago machine voting the dead, the park-bench dweller will not vote under such names as "Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Tinker Belle", etc. In short they cannot "buy" votes.

December 2, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
Oz said...

I bet Mr. Beck and Mr. Mackey had to show an ID at the Election Commission to run for office. Should we do away with an ID at the bank, emergency room, social security office, etc. Where should it stop? Should voters even be required to register to vote? Why do they require an ID anywhere? It's because of FRAUD! It's a pain to get a picture made for my drivers license every 4 years but I do it.

December 2, 2011 at 4:45 p.m.
Momus said...

"If their relatives don't have enough sense to be able to get a valid photo ID in today's world they probably have no business voting anyway.."

Are you suggesting they take a 'literacy test' before they have the RIGHT to vote? I think that's been tried before.

December 2, 2011 at 6:42 p.m.
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