Tennessee: no ID card for 96 year old voter

Dorothy Cooper, 96 year old resident of Chattanooga was denied the state photo ID card due to missing documentation. She needed the identification for election according the new law so she brought birth certificate, utility bill, lease copy and voter registration card but was denied the ID card as her birth certificate shows her maiden name and she is missing the marriage certificate. This caused a mismatch between voter’s card and birth certificate, mismatch would have to be resolved with a document stating name change which is marriage certificate in this case.
Simple story, right? The rule say you’d need XYZ documents in order to obtain the free ID card for voting, you’re missing one paper you don’t get ID card. Simple. Why is the story important then? Well, Dorothy Cooper remembers time when women were not allowed to vote in some states she’s been participating in elections since her 20ies. All these years she’s been living normal life without any form of state or federal photo identification. How was that possible? It’s not that hard, especially in small communities. Would you actually as a bank clerk ask a person who you know well, sometimes for 3 generations back for photo ID to cash a check? Dorothy says she was asked for photo ID card ocassionaly but showing Social Security Card instead was always enough.
Legislators in many states, including Tennessee allowed for issuing free state IDs for those who need it for voting but when it comes to supporting documents the matter gets complicated. Hiring a lawyer to get birth certificate or marriage certificate reproduced might go as high as a thousand dollars and there is no way the state would fund it. Democrats in some states actually brought up the issue when the bills where in the debating stage. Maybe additionally to free ID card we needed a diferrent set of rules for issuing identification cards for people born over 70 or 80 years ago. Dorothy Cooper was suggested by Hamilton County Administrator of Elections to cast absentee ballot that doesn’t require photo ID which in this case is more exploiting a loophole that solving the problem.

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