published Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

The GOP anti-voter strategy

Tennessee's Republican state officials, like those in other Republican-controlled states that recently passed strict new laws on voting and voter photo IDs, generally claim that such restrictions are not a problem for most voters. In any case, they say, the restrictions are worthwhile because of the voter fraud they may prevent, regardless of new difficulties they pose to voters and voter-registration drives. But there's a lot of evidence to suggest that patently partisan defense is not true at all.

In Tennessee, the Department of the Secretary of State confirmed to this page Tuesday, approximately 126,000 seniors, including 7,092 in Hamilton County, have a driver's license without a photo-ID. If they go to vote next year without first obtaining a photo-ID driver's license -- or some other narrowly acceptable government-issued photo ID -- they will not be allowed to vote.

Across the nation, a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law has found that approximately 5 million voters will be negatively affected by the newly stringent voter laws, The New York Times reported Monday. Estimates in Texas and South Carolina, for example, suggest that some 800,000 voters in these two states alone will have trouble obtaining acceptable photo ID cards.

These are no small numbers. They vastly outweigh the rare instances of voter fraud of the sort these laws are said to deter. In Hamilton County, for example, voter fraud of any sort "is very rare," says Election Commission Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. That's generally been the record across the state, and in most states surveyed by the Brennan Center report.

Controversy over the restrictive new voter restrictions has erupted in Tennessee and the other 13 states that passed restrictions on voters this year. Though state officials ignored the criticism at first, the most recent response in Nashville has been somewhat helpful. The Secretary of State's office has asked the court clerks in 30 of Tennessee's 95 counties, including Hamilton and the other three large metro counties, to begin issuing conversions of non-photo ID driver's licenses for seniors to photo-ID licenses.

These counties already issue driver's license renewals. Typically these licenses include photo-ID's, but people over 60 have been allowed to receive licenses without a photo-ID. The new license conversions to add photos are scheduled to be offered here, at the County Courthouse only, beginning next Monday, County Clerk Bill Knowles said Tuesday. They will be free until Mar. 12 next year, and then will be available for the usual state and county renewal fees ($12 total in Hamilton County.)

This service surely will help seniors here and in the other 29 counties. Wait times at the County Clerk's courthouse office are well under the sometimes multi-hour waits at state driver's license centers. But the program won't serve any of Tennessee 32 counties that have neither a driver's license center nor a County Clerk participating in the drivers' license photo-ID conversions, a Safety Department spokesperson affirmed Tuesday. In those counties, elderly and handicapped citizens with an old or lapsed non-photo license still must find a way to get to driver's license center and endure the wait times.

Voters of any age seeking a Tennessee driver's license for the first time, in order to apply for new voter's registration card, will also run into newly stringent demands to prove both their U.S. citizenship and their residency in Tennessee. (Tennessee, Alabama and Kansas passed laws this year to require proof of citizenship or legal residency status to obtain a driver's license -- the only three states to do so.)

Many people do not possess a certified copy of their birth certificate, and many of these are not likely to go to the trouble to obtain one in order to get a driver's license, and then to register to vote. But that's precisely what the partisan Republican authors intended by passing the new anti-voter laws, which include tighter windows and other strictures to reduce absentee and early voting and voter registration drives.

Studies after the 2008 presidential election showed that most newly registered voters -- particularly students, immigrants, minorities, the elderly, the handicapped and the poor -- cast a significant majority of their votes for Democrats. Republicans don't want a rerun of that in 2012. Their solution is not to offer fairer workplace, health-care or tax equity policies, but too restrict voting by Americans who might vote against them. In a tight race nationally, restrictions that affect 5 million votes are significant.

That goes against the American tradition of expanding and protecting citizens' most valuable franchise -- the right to vote. But that's precisely what this Republican strategy -- for all their flag-waving, sham patriotism and protection of "family values" -- aims to do.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
EaTn said...

Anyone who supports discouraging mostly the elderly their right to vote by unnecessary laws should crawl back under their rock. Don't give me this comeback bull about voter fraud which has proven to be a non-issue.

October 5, 2011 at 7:02 a.m.
conservative said...

It has been widely reported that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes. They get a free ride! They are eligible for food stamps, wellfare, subsidized housing, free medical care, subsidized medical care, subsidized prescription drugs, just to name a few programs. In addition they get military protection and drive on highways at no expense to them. This of course is provided by the other 53% of tax paying Americans. Now they get a FREE photo ID which will enable them to vote for even more programs! I bet they cant't wait to get that ID.

October 5, 2011 at 7:57 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

Conservative, when you find out how to get blood from a stone, you let me know. Until then, stick to your Myspace page for witty, thought provoking posts.

October 5, 2011 at 9 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Unless you can back that up con-servative with some facts, you are just blowing hot air. How many or those are elderly? How many are children? How many of those are unemployed? Show us where that 47% came from. Looks to me like you will believe anything that promotes your warped sense of America. Just because something is widely reported does not make it true. Do some homework.

October 5, 2011 at 9:02 a.m.
Legend said...

conservative said... It has been widely reported that 47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes. They get a free ride! They are eligible for food stamps, wellfare, subsidized housing, free medical care, subsidized medical care, subsidized prescription drugs, just to name a few programs

conservative, don't confuse the poor with the rich and ultra rich. Even Leona Helmsley once admitted only poor people pay taxes. She just got into trouble when she failed to grease the right politician hands.

October 5, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
timbo said...

JustOneWoman.......Where are your "facts?" You liberal smart asses challenge us for facts when you don't offer any of your own. Democrat dominated precincts are notorious 4 voter fraud. Especially in the majority Black precincts.

October 5, 2011 at 9:34 a.m.
Legend said...

Libertarians4Freedom said... No, the GOP strategy is ANTI-FRAUD. Sorry Democrats, but your good old days of "vote early, vote often" are gone. The American people are not gonna stand up as you commit fraud on our elections. I need to ID to buy a gun, which is funny since buying guns is in the Bill of Rights. As for voting, there have always been limits in who can vote, in the past only men and property owners could vote, then came the poll taxes, now all we're asking is freaking ID!

Lib4, do all you GOPers suffer from memory loss? Wasn't it Bush jr. and his fellow GOP supporters who helped him to steal the election to help him become president?

October 5, 2011 at 9:37 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

There you go genius, challenge us liberal smart asses for facts and then offer none yourself. And the "fact" I offer up here is that timbo is a genius! Oh, and a racist too.

October 5, 2011 at 9:38 a.m.
conservative said...

Google "47% of Americans pay no federal income taxes". You will find articles by,,NY,,,,NATIONAL, on the first page alone. I can lead a lieberal to the truth but I can't make him believe it.

October 5, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Timbo, last time I checked questions didn't require facts. But don't let that get in your way of hating and name calling.

Con, what percent is elderly? children? Or rich? Did you count GE in that figure? I really want to know. Did the articles just throw out a big number and you fetched it, or did they break it down so you could really know what you are talking about? The CBO put that number closer to 10% when the articles came out about the 47%. It was later reported that the 47% was the number of people that didn't OWE taxes.

Back to the subject line; The Chattanooga story below has reached the national news level and the this site has had problems this morning from the traffic.

October 5, 2011 at 11:53 a.m.

This whole law is a travesty! It is definitely going to further disenfranchise those thousands of illegal alien voters the Democrats are depending upon. It is so unfair that legal residents might be the only ones who get to vote. Bigots!

October 5, 2011 at 11:59 a.m.
hambone said...

All the examples of voter fraud I have seen used to justify requiring a photo ID involve poll workers voting for dead voters or some other way of stuffing the ballot box.

How does requiring a photo ID prevent this kind of fraud?

Illegal immigrants don't even trust banks, but they have gone out and registered to vote ?

Yeah right!!!

October 5, 2011 at 1:12 p.m.
Rational1 said...

In a country that prides itself on justice and the American dream, it is difficult to believe that there are people out there who would deny loyal Americans the right to vote for political reasons. The incidents of voter fraud in America is and has always been minute. Illegal immigrants don’t vote.

It is comforting to know that the Department of Justice has the authority under the Voting Rights Act to approve, deny or modify these draconian Jim Crow laws that are being passed in the GOP controlled states. President Obama has requested that the DOJ take a more aggressive stance in those areas that are covered under the Voting Rights Act. It is incumbent on all of us to support the rights of all Americans to exercise their right to vote.  

October 5, 2011 at 1:26 p.m.

Yes. It is very comforting. They did such a great job with "fast and furious" after all. Just the kind of people we need tampering with the vote. Maybe they will give every registered voter a gun.

October 5, 2011 at 2:09 p.m.
hambone said...

What is amazing is the number of people posting here that pretend not to realize that requiring a photo ID is a effort to stiffle the vote of some.

It is also amazing that people posting on here are pretending to think that requiring a photo ID will stop what little fraud there is.

October 5, 2011 at 3:34 p.m.
Rational1 said...

Hambone, You wrote:

"What is amazing is the number of people posting here that pretend not to realize that requiring a photo ID is a effort to stiffle the vote of some.

It is also amazing that people posting on here are pretending to think that requiring a photo ID will stop what little fraud there is."

You are spot-on. Actually it reflects the pure fear, hatred and ignorance that permeates certain elements of American society today.

October 5, 2011 at 7:51 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

I just saw a story on national television about this nonsense. Imagine my shock and disgust that such stupidity has actually caused infringement on the voting rights of our citizens. As a veteran and a former military officer of this state, I am outraged.

Such disgusting and egregious misconduct deserves swift and decisive repeal. Our legislature and Governor should act immediately to repeal this disgusting and embarrassing law.

I am personally sick and tired of seeing such stupid and heartless and disgusting conduct from our citizens in elected office. This is not why I led our people into war for you. Get your half of the deal together.

Act like gentlemen and make this right, right now. Repeal that law, and stop being disgusting sycophants. Those billionaire hate mongers on Fox News aren't going to pay you anything anyway.

Stop being stupid and disgusting. Start acting smart and do what's right. This law is an example of what's wrong. Repeal it immediately.

Do not embarrass us like this again.

October 5, 2011 at 8:08 p.m.

328k, Your words are telling me exactly the opposite of what you claim. You probably couldn't tell the butt from the barrel. If you were ever a veteran, you have forgotten what it means to serve.

October 6, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.
JustOneWoman said...

Shame on you Eater. Thank you 328, we appreciate your service, and your thoughts. I agree with you completely. Annoying as these jerkwads are, they have the right to free speech because of people like you. Thank you! And please try to ignore eater, he knows not of what he is talking and just needs a hug.

October 6, 2011 at 12:11 p.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.