Press Release from Tennessee Citizen Action, Oct. 21, 2011:
No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition of Tennessee Supports Bill Introduced to Repeal Government-Issued Photo ID to Vote Mandate
Nashville, Tenn. (October 20, 2011) — The No Barriers to the Ballot Coalition of Tennessee, the coalition of organizations behind the state-wide petition drive to repeal the government-issued photo ID to vote mandate, will support the bill filed by Tennessee Senate and House Democrats yesterday that, if passed, will repeal the mandate.
“No right is more fundamental than the right to vote. It is protected by more constitutional amendments – the 1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th – than any other right we enjoy as Americans. Tennessee’s new law requiring photo IDs undermines our democracy by impeding access to the polls and reducing the number of Tennesseans who will be able to cast their vote thereby disenfranchising many thousands of eligible voters,” said coalition member, Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, “We call on the Tennessee General Assembly to repeal this un-American law.”
“There are many seniors in the Edgehill area who proudly exercise their right to vote; however, the photo identification requirement clearly places another obstacle on their path to the ballot box,” added Daynise Couch, executive director, Organized Neighbors of Edgehill.
The coalition supports the repeal bill because mandated government-issued photo IDs to vote disproportionately affect people of color, young voters, people over 65 and people with disabilities. Advancement Project studies show 25 percent of African Americans, 15 percent of those earning less than $35,000, 18 percent of citizens age 65 or older, and 20 percent of voters age 18 to 29 do not have government-issue photo Ids.
“Things are really tough here in Tennessee. People are losing their jobs, they’re upside down in their mortgages, unemployment is 20 – 25% in some rural communities, even some of our state workers can’t afford to feed their families, and now with the stroke of a pen, they’re losing their right to vote”, said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “Why do we insist on suppressing the vote of those who very often have no other way to have their voice heard in our democracy?”
As of today, the coalition has gathered signatures from Tennesseans representing more than 65 of the 95 counties in the state and have distributed more than 75 petition packets to individuals and organizations volunteering to circulate the petition in their communities.
The No Barriers to the Ballot Coalition of Tennessee includes ACLU of Tennessee, AFL-CIO of Tennessee, Center for Independent Living of Middle TN, Common Cause of Tennessee, Mid-south Peace and Justice Center, NAACP of Tennessee, NAACP Nashville, Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc., Organized Neighbors of Edgehill, Tennessee Citizen Action, Tennessee Mental Health Consumers Association, Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, and Urban EpiCenter.
The petition can be found online at: http://www.tnca.org/petition.