Dorothy Cooper was the first senior citizen to get media notice for problems in getting a photo ID to vote. Olean Blount of Carroll County is the latest. From the Tennessean: Three trips. More than 120 miles. Three hours with her daughter in the car.
That is what it took for Olean Blount to get the right identification card to cast her ballot.
“I don’t know why I needed it,” she said. “Everybody around here knows me.”
The 92-year-old woman from Westport, a crossroads 11 miles southeast of Huntingdon in Carroll County, says she spent the better part of two days trying to get a picture ID in time for the March presidential primary.
…Because Carroll County lacks a driver service center, Blount and her daughter drove first to the clerk’s office in neighboring Benton County, only to be sent home because a camera was broken. They returned a few days later but were told then that the county clerk could not issue her an ID card after all. County clerks could issue a photo ID only in exchange for a non-photo driver’s license, available in Tennessee to senior citizens.
They next traveled to the driver service center in Henry County, where Blount was issued an ID. But they were wrongly charged $9.50 for the card, which by law was supposed to be issued free of charge. Blount got a refund, but she does not feel that she got her money’s worth.
“That was back when gas was around $5,” she recalled with only a slight exaggeration. “So I didn’t get my money refunded, all of it.”
Homeless Man Gets the Runaround?From Chas Sisk:
Al Star, a Nashville homeless man, says he got the runaround from the Department of Safety when he attempted a few days before Thanksgiving to apply for a free state identification to vote, eventually having to call an aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper before receiving the ID. Star, 59, says a clerk at the Department of Safety’s office in the Snodgrass building near the Capitol initially refused to issue him a free ID to replace his lost driver’s license, saying instead that he would have to pay $12 for a replacement. Star says he told the clerk that he no longer needed a driver’s license because he doesn’t own a car and had stated clearly on his application that he only wanted an ID to vote. Hamilton Commissioners Seek Repeal
Two Hamilton County commissioners pleaded with other members of their body Thursday to ask the state Legislature to repeal the voter ID law it passed earlier this year, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Though commissioners will not vote on the resolution until Wednesday, they discussed the matter in an agenda session Thursday. Commissioners Greg Beck and Warren Mackey asked the others to help repeal the law.
The federal government is spending billions of dollars fighting wars in places such as Iraq to give citizens of those countries the right to vote, Beck said. Yet soldiers from Tennessee returning home might see their own grandparents turned away at the polls because they don’t have the proper ID, he said.
“Do you know that it’s easier for old people to vote over [in Iraq] than it is here?” he asked. “It used to be that easy for us to vote.” More Fame for Dorothy Cooper
Dorothy Cooper, the 96-year-old Chattanooga resident denied her photo ID for voting in October, is becoming the national emblem in the Democratic fight against state voter identification laws, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The Democratic National Committee rolled out www.protectingthevote.org Thursday and released a report on laws affecting voting rights across the states. The site attacks new voter ID laws across the country and features Cooper, who was turned away in October from a local Tennessee Department of Safety Driver Services Center.
Republicans say the bill has tremendous support across the state and is needed to ensure confidence in elections.
“I never knew it’d cause this much fuss,” Cooper said when reached by phone Thursday. “When I started I thought I was going to get my card and that would be it.”
…Will Crossley, the Democratic National Committee counsel and director of voter protection, said the Democratic National Committee chose to highlight Cooper to show how the laws are “unnecessary and essentially arbitrary,” and that “someone who has been voting for 70-something years would suddenly have her identity questioned.”
According to the Chattanooga Times=Free Press, when 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper went to the driver’s license center Thursday for her second try at getting a photo ID, videographers with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign were there to record events. Tennessee campaign spokeswoman Addie Whisenant is quoted. Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said Cooper “was very receptive” when the party asked about citing her experience in voter education and registration drives.
“We made sure she was OK with this,” Puttbrese said Friday. “She and every other law-abiding citizen just want people to be able to vote.”
But a state Republican Party official pointed to (TNDP Chairman Chip) Forrester’s email (see previous post HERE) and said the Democrats have “exploited a 96-year-old woman for political reasons.”
“It doesn’t seem like the Democrats want to help people vote. They want to scare them,” said Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee GOP.
“I know Tennessee Democrats are struggling to raise money right now but that should never negate their responsibility to inform voters of their voting rights,” he said.
Puttbrese said Cooper’s experience illustrates what’s wrong with the law, which was passed this year in the Republican-dominated state Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Democrats have introduced legislation to repeal the law.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Safety says a 96-year-old Chattanooga woman who was denied a photo identification card has obtained one.
Earlier this month, Dorothy Cooper went to a Driver Service Center to get the free identification card offered by the state as part of the new voter identification law that takes effect next year.
But the clerk refused to give Cooper a card because her birth certificate carried her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, and she didn’t have a copy of her marriage certificate.
Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls told The Associated Press on Thursday that Cooper provided her marriage certificate for verification and was able to get a voter ID.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders announced this week that they’ve filed legislation to repeal the new law. UPDATE, a comment from Cooper via the Chattanooga TFP: Dorothy Cooper, 96, clutched her new voter ID in an envelope Thursday afternoon and said, “I can rest my mind.”… “When you’re as old as I am, you don’t need all of this on you.”
The tale of Dorothy Cooper, the 96-year-old Chattanooga voter who is having problems getting a free photo ID to comply with a new state law, has gone national on MSNBC.
Here’s an interview with Tennessee Citizen Action’s Mary Mancini the matter.
When a 96-year-old Chattanooga resident went to a driver’s license station to get a free ID for voting, carrying an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request, reports the Chattanooga TFP. That morning (Dorothy) Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.
“But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.
“I don’t know what difference it makes,” Cooper said.
Cooper visited the state driver service center with Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs. After the clerk denied Cooper’s request, Kilpatrick called a state worker, explained what happened and asked if Cooper needed to return with a copy of the marriage certificate.
“The lady laughed,” Kilpatrick said. “She said she’s never heard of all that.”
Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said in a Tuesday email that Cooper’s situation, though unique, could have been handled differently.
“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls said. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.”
Despite that, Qualls said, “the examiner should have taken extra steps to determine alternative forms of documentation for Ms. Cooper.”