published Friday, October 14th, 2011

Safety commissioner Bill Gibbons praises Hamilton County Clerk’s voter ID efforts

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    Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles

Tennessee’s Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner praised Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles’ efforts to make it easier for more than 7,000 county residents to get a photo ID to vote.

A state law, passed earlier this year, requires voters to present a photo ID when they go to the polls beginning next year. A driver’s license is one of the accepted forms of photo IDs, but some drivers 60 and older have opted to remove their photos from their driver’s licenses.

Across the state, about 126,000 seniors have chosen not to keep their photo, records show.

Knowles is one of 30 clerks in the state offering free photo upgrades for those drivers.

“Tennessee is the only state in the union that allows nonphoto driver’s licenses,” Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said Thursday at a meeting at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “That’s kind of posed a problem on the front end.”

Knowles reiterated that his courthouse office would be the only branch offering the service in Hamilton County. It will handle only photo upgrades for those currently holding photoless licenses, he said.

Nondrivers seeking free voter IDs still must go to the state driver service centers on Dayton Boulevard or Bonny Oaks Drive.

Gibbons also reiterated that 15 of the state’s driver service centers would be open on the first Saturday of each month between now and March for those seeking voter IDs or photos on their licenses. The centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m

“We urge groups to call with those numbers ahead of time to give us some idea when they may be coming, so we can kind of schedule those so we don’t have five busloads [at once],” he said.

Jack McGill, a local election officer whose wife recently removed her photo from her license, attended the meeting.

“I won’t even be able to let her vote that day without her going to get her driver’s license updated,” he said. “That sounds ridiculous.”

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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headcoconut said...

So this decision will take care of voters over sixty who still drive, but no photo on their license, but what about registered voters who do not drive and never had a drivers' license? This solution is really not a solution after all. As it continues to not address the problem across the board.

October 14, 2011 at 9:27 a.m.
coulter said...

The response of Clerk Knowles to serve Hamilton County citizens as his office is able/allowed is much appreciated. Thank you Mr. Knowles for your continued service to our community. Change is difficult; but, there is a fairly simple solution in this case. If you do not have a photo driver’s license or voter ID and would like the awesome privilege of voting, drop by one of the state service locations or the Hamilton County Courthouse, if applicable, and upgrade your licenses or obtain an voter’s ID accordingly. There are millions of folks in dozens of countries (Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Cote d’lvoire, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritania, Namibia, Pakistan, Singapore, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zimbabwe) around the globe that would be ecstatic if given the opportunity to obtain a voter ID. I am thankful for the rights we have to vote in the United States of America.

October 15, 2011 at 1:39 a.m.
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