Tag Archives: Durbin

Haslam Responds to Durbin Letter

Gov. Bill Haslam has replied to a publicized letter from Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin that asked for assurances that Tennessee is taking steps to assure that voters are not denied ballot access because of a new law requiring a photo ID for voting.
Basically, it says: Yes, senator, we are taking steps. It outlines some of the law’s provisions and says voter education efforts are getting underway.
An excerpt:
“The Department of Safety and Homeland Security is placing citizens who need photo identification for voting purposes in an ‘express service’ category. While there will still be some wait time at some centers, this should speed up the process for citizens needing photo IDS.
“The Department of Safety and Homeland Security is also working with numerous county clerks’ offices, including some in counties where no driver service centers are located, to issue photo identification cards to registered voters who need them at no charge. This should increase significantly the number of locations where voters can go to obtain photo identification.”
For full pdf text of the letter, click on this link: 091511_Sen._Durbin_Letter.pdf

Harwell Says Cooper and Durbin ‘Trample on State’s Rights’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State House Speaker Beth Harwell is hitting back at congressional Democrats who criticized a new Tennessee law requiring a photo ID to vote.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois joined U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper in his Nashville district on Monday to raise concerns that the photo ID law could hamper ballot access.
Harwell, a Nashville Republican, in a statement Tuesday said the two Democrats should focus on pressing federal issues and not “come to Tennessee to trample on states’ rights.”
The state estimates 126,000 registered voters don’t have current driver’s licenses with photos on them. But the Secretary of State’s office stresses that expired driver’s licenses will qualify, as well as a slew of other government issued IDs, ranging from federal Veteran Identification Cards to state handgun carry permits.

Note: Harwell’s full statement is below.

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Sen. Durbin in Nashville Talking on Voter ID With Jim Cooper

(Note: Expands and replaces previous post)
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin and Rep. Jim Cooper are urging Republican Gov. Bill Haslam to take steps to ensure ballot access under Tennessee’s new law requiring a photo ID to vote.
Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, is holding hearings on new voter ID laws in the Senate. He joined Cooper in his Nashville district on Monday to discuss the Tennessee requirements with reporters. The senator has also sent a letter to Haslam about the issue.
“It is curious that the people most affected by this — who would be those in lower income categories, minorities and the elderly — tend to vote more Democratic,” Durbin said. “And we think in many instances in states that have done this, they will be discouraging those populations from registering and voting.”
Cooper said he recently went with his 92-year-old mother to get a government-issued ID.
“She’s 92, she hasn’t driven in eight or 10 years, and she didn’t have one,” Cooper said. “So I took her by and we got her a special non-driver driver’s license, so she’s able to vote now.
“This is a minefield for the uninitiated,” he said. “And you shouldn’t have to go through all this red tape to vote.”
The state estimates that more than 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee could be affected by the new law because their government-issued IDs don’t have pictures on them.

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U.S. Senate Panel Eyes Photo Voter Laws; Haslam Gets a Letter

A U.S. Senate subcommittee held a hearing on state laws requiring a photo ID for voting, reports The Tennessean, with arguments apparently echoing the differing positions taken by Republicans and Democrats in Tennessee.
I am deeply concerned by this coordinated, well-funded effort to pass laws that would compromise the right to vote,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the civil rights subcommittee, said at Thursday’s hearing.
He said the incidence of voter fraud is “minimal” and doesn’t justify such measures.
Durbin wrote to Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday, asking him to explain the steps his administration is taking to “ensure that Tennesseans without the forms of photo identification now required by the law can obtain it — efficiently and free of charge — before the next election.”