published Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

In Chattanooga, S.C. history professor blasts voter ID laws

A South Carolina history professor who has spent a career writing on race and politics called recently passed laws requiring voters to present identification "one of the most disgraceful social issues in American history."

Dan T. Carter traced the history of American voting for a crowd of 100 at The Chattanoogan hotel Tuesday during the annual meeting of the Federal Bar Association's Chattanooga chapter.

As he finished the brief history lesson, Carter paused.

"And here's where I should be careful ... but I'm not," he said.

The professor then said that voter fraud is "simply not happening" and studies show that voter ID requirements disproportionately affect minorities.

Carter is a professor emeritus for the University of South Carolina and the author of several books on race and politics.

Tennessee's Legislature passed the Voter ID Act in 2011, requiring government-issued identification with photo for voters to cast a ballot. The law was challenged but was upheld by the state court of appeals.

He then detailed what he sees as two other problems for voting -- taking away voting rights of convicted felons and gerrymandering by political parties.

"No other country in the Western world does this," Carter said of disenfranchising felons.

He blamed both Democrats and Republicans for gerrymandering and pointed to Iowa's model as a better way to adjust political boundaries to accommodate population shifts. The state uses an independent committee to redraw political districts, rather than allowing political parties in power to accomplish the task.

The meeting also saw the election of a new federal bar president. Katharine Gardner will head the local chapter for the next year.

Gardner recapped the partnership the chapter has formed with Howard School's Talented Tenth Leadership Program.

Eighteen bar members are working as mentors with students in the high school's program. The chapter bought 13 Kindle Fire tablets for the school's advanced placement history course with textbooks loaded onto the devices.

Many of the classes at the school lack enough textbooks to send one home with each student, Gardner told the group.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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