NASHVILLE — Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, celebrated her mother's 94th birthday today by pointedly telling the GOP-controlled House that her mother cannot vote because she was never issued a birth certificate.
"She taught school until well into her 70s and was always civically engaged," Favors said. "Now she's disheartened because she's one of those individuals who was never issued a birth certificate.
"So," Favors added, "she's unable to obtain a photo identification license so that she can vote. She loves Tennessee and is a citizen. And we hope she will be afford the opportunity to vote before she transitions from this life."
Favors has legislation, now stuck in a legislative panel, that seeks to make it easier for elderly Tennesseans who were never issued birth certificates, to get the required government photo identification necessary before they can get registered to vote.
Upon winning a majority in the General Assembly, Tennessee Republicans pushed stricter requirements on registering and voting, requiring government-issued photo identification such as a driver's license and tougher requirements to get them.
Republicans said they were they were needed to deter fraud although they could cite few actual cases involving in-person voting fraud. But Democrats charge such laws are aimed at suppressing votes among elderly and minority voters.
Similar laws were passed across the country.
This story was updated March 16 at 2:35 p.m. to clarify the fourth paragraph which originally stated: Favors has stalled-legislation that would allow elderly Tennesseans to get registered to vote again.