Safety chief says Tennessee learned lesson over Chattanooga voter signup refusal

Safety chief says Tennessee learned lesson over Chattanooga voter signup refusal

October 12th, 2011 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

In this Oct. 4, 2011 photo, Dorothy Cooper, 96, discusses problems she had getting a photo identification card at the Hamilton County Election Commission in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Boynton Terrace resident plans to vote by absentee ballot, which will not require a photo ID.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - The widely publicized case of 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper of Chattanooga, who ran into problems seeking a free photo ID to vote under a new Tennessee law, has taught officials an invaluable lesson, state Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons said today.

"In terms of other individuals who may be in that situation again, we're encouraging our employees to use some commonsense discretion in deciding whether or not that person is presenting documentation that is legitimate and issue the photo ID accordingly," Gibbons said.

He said the department has contacted Cooper and told her she would be issued the photo ID if she returns. Cooper said after being turned away initially that she intended to vote absentee, a process in which one mails his or her vote in to authorities. That does not require a photo ID.

Gibbons' comments came during a news conference in which he, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and the Tennessee AARP outlined additional steps aimed at smoothing over difficulties some would-be voters are experiencing.

Today, Gibbons will join with Hamilton County Clerk Knowles at the Hamilton County Courthouse for a news conference about the additional services.

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