From the Mountain Press, reporting on a photo ID education session where election officials, but no voters, showed up in heavily Republican Sevier County:
It was clear during this week’s voter education session that there is a lot of emotion about a new law requiring a photo ID be shown at the polls, but it’s not necessarily from those who might not get their say in coming elections because of it.
Rather, it’s from the officials and poll workers who will have to enforce the regulation. They seem to agree the rule will present some serious challenges come voting day.
…”When it comes election time, I think they’re going to find they’ve stirred up a hornet nest,” Thurman said. “People are not going to be happy when they’re told they have to go back home and get their ID or they can’t vote.”
Deputy Administrator of Elections Ed Kuncitis assured no one would be turned away, with those who don’t bring identification given the chance to fill out a provisional ballot. They must then provide the proof to election officials within two business days or their vote won’t count.
That didn’t eliminate the concerns, though.
“You all are going to get the black eye over this and it has nothing to do with you,” Thurman told the Election Commission staff before pointing out what he sees as another flaw in the law. “You don’t have a clue who the person is when they vote absentee. There’s no way to make those folks provide ID. So there’s still a backdoor if somebody is really set on casting a bad ballot.”
In an effort to help avoid some of the potential problems, Election Commission member Mike Fitzgibbons suggested the staff undertake an education campaign including additional sessions and putting Goins’ video on local-access television channels. While saying that could help, fellow board member John Huff maintained the real issue is that the public doesn’t seem to care about the change, using the attendance at the meeting as illustration.
“You don’t have anybody here,” Huff said, motioning around the room with his arm. “People are not concerned.”
Partisan Jousting in Jackson
More predictable partisan fueding reported by the Jackson Sun from a West Tennessee gathering:
Democratic leaders said the photo ID requirement especially targets the elderly, students and blacks.
“I just think this is a real impediment to encouraging people to vote,” said Mike McWherter, former Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Local NAACP President Harrell Carter said the requirement takes the political process back to the 1960s. “It’s nothing more than a poll tax on African Americans,” he said.
“I think that with all due respect, Democrats in Tennessee are desperate for an issue because their president is failing, and their Congress is failing,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said.
He said the voter ID law will strengthen the electoral process at little inconvenience.
“We just don’t think that it is too much to ask when 90 percent of voters in Tennessee have a driver’s license,” Devaney said.