NASHVILLE — State Democrats today announced a year-long effort to educate Tennessee voters about the state’s new photo ID requirements for voting.
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester called plans already under way by Republican election officials and the state Safety Department as “woefully inadequate.”
Forrester and other Democrats contend the new law passed earlier this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly has the potential of “disenfranchising” as many as 675,000 voting-age Tennesseans.
The law requires voters to present state or federally issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license, along with voter registration cards to vote. Republicans say it is intended to combat voter fraud, which Democrats say hardly exists.
Democrats are kicking off their effort in 20 communities on Saturday, the same day that the Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is opening 19 driver service centers to issue voter-photo IDs. The centers will continue to open on the first Saturday of each month through early next year.
State Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons announced today that, as of Oct. 24, the department had issued 2,385 forms of photo identification for voting purposes since the new law went into effect on July 1. The IDs are being issued free to those who certify they need it to vote.
The state’s 95 county election commissions, which are controlled by Republicans, are holding their own events to publicize the new law.
State officials are also coordinating outreach efforts with the seniors group AARP.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...