‘Letter to the Editor’ from Tennessee House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner, Sept. 30, 2011:
I felt it was necessary to respond to a “press conference” held by state Sen. Bill Ketron this week regarding the new voter I.D. law here in Tennessee. Not only is this law unneeded and politically motivated, but Ketron also feels it is necessary to single out one Rutherford County citizen, who made a terrible mistake almost thirty years ago. This is nothing more than an effort to validate his shortsighted Voter I.D. Act.
Ketron used a sort of character assassination on Rutherford County Democratic Party Vice Chairman Tony Pegel. Pegel, who committed a felony almost 30 years ago when he was 18 years old, is a success story. He served probation for the crime and went on to earn his engineering degree in Knoxville and is now a party official in the county and an asset to the community. Tony Pegel was young when he made a mistake by committing a crime and has paid his debt to society.
The error over his voting record was an honest mistake and as soon as he found out there was a problem, he immediately made efforts to correct it. The mistake was on the part of the then non-computerized election commission.
Pegel, when he originally registered to vote, admitted on his voter registration that he had been convicted of a felony. Even though he wasn’t eligible to vote until two years later, the election commission mistakenly issued a voter card to Pegel anyway.
When Pegel learned that he shouldn’t have been issued the card, he purged his voting rights until the matter could be resolved.
Quite frankly, this has nothing to do with Voter identification as Pegel would have still been issued the registration card with an I.D.
Ketron and the Republican Party have done nothing other than work to disenfranchise voters that are more likely to vote against them.
This law disenfranchises the elderly, the poor and anyone that exclusively uses public transportation. Not only this, but, there are several counties in Tennessee that don’t have driver license stations. In other words, many Tennesseans, who are without transportation, will simply lose their voting rights.
This law is wrong and should be repealed prior to next year’s elections. I plan to work to do just that.