Press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; March 12, 2012.
Tennessee’s restrictive law requiring a photo ID to vote, under consideration in both the Senate and the House this week, has already disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of eligible voters across the state and created a real burden on those trying to obtain the so-called “free” photo ID the law provides.
Rural residents, minorities, seniors and limited-income and disabled people are less likely to have photo IDs and more likely to lack access both to the means and the documents required to get them.
This regressive photo ID law is a solution in search of a problem. It was passed under the pretext of preventing voter fraud. Yet, the Tennessee Election Commission has failed to show a widespread problem. In fact, research shows that voter fraud is actually extraordinarily rare.
Instead the law is burdening ordinary citizens who want to exercise their fundamental right to vote, including those who have been voting for years without problem. People like Martin Skinner and his son, Mike, who has Down Syndrome, who had to make four 34-mile round trips to the driver’s license center, plus a trip to the health department, to get a photo ID for Mike to vote. Or like ninety-one-year old Virginia Lasater of Murfreesboro, who was physically unable to stand in the long line at the driver testing center to get an ID. Or ninety-six-year old Dorothy Cooper, who was denied the free ID because she didn’t have a copy of her marriage certificate with her.
The passage of Tennessee’s photo ID law was part of a well-funded, well-documented, coordinated national voter suppression campaign last year that created barriers to the ballot box for millions of people. But it’s not too late to take Tennessee out of that equation.
Thank you for using your voice to keep elections free, fair and equal.