published Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

Chattanooga woman denied voting ID gains national attention

  • photo
    Dorothy Cooper, 96, holds her free state voting ID Thursday outside the new Dayton Boulevard Department of Safety Driver Service Center. Earlier in October, Cooper was denied her ID because she did not have her marriage certificate.
    Photo by Tim Barber.
    enlarge photo

Should voters be required to show a photo ID?
  • Yes. 65%
  • No. 35%

804 total votes.

Dorothy Cooper may be 96, but she's become the poster child for Democratic opposition to a Republican-sponsored state law requiring photo identification to vote -- she's even attracted the attention of the nation's Democrat in Chief.

Days after the Chattanooga resident was denied the free photo ID card promised in a new state law, state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester cited her travails in a campaign fundraising email.

Forrester's email said that "Tennessee's new Republican 'photo ID' law has successfully suppressed another voter," as reported by Nashville Scene. It invited potential donors to "Please give $5, $10 or $25 to support our efforts to ensure people like Dorothy -- or your grandmother -- can be a voter on Election Day."

On Thursday, when Cooper went to the driver's license center in Red Bank for her second try at getting the ID, videographers with Barack Obama's presidential campaign were there to record events, Tennessee campaign spokeswoman Addie Whisenant said.

Democratic Party spokesman Brandon Puttbrese said Cooper "was very receptive" when the party asked about citing her experience in voter education and registration drives.

"We made sure she was OK with this," Puttbrese said Friday. "She and every other law-abiding citizen just want people to be able to vote."

But a state Republican Party official pointed to Forrester's email and said the Democrats have "exploited a 96-year-old woman for political reasons."

"It doesn't seem like the Democrats want to help people vote. They want to scare them," said Adam Nickas, executive director of the Tennessee GOP.

"I know Tennessee Democrats are struggling to raise money right now but that should never negate their responsibility to inform voters of their voting rights," he said.

Puttbrese said Cooper's experience illustrates what's wrong with the law, which was passed this year in the Republican-dominated state Legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam. Democrats have introduced legislation to repeal the law.

A 91-year-old Murfreesboro woman said this week she couldn't get a photo ID because she was physically unable to stand in a long line at the driver's license center, according to The Associated Press.

"It makes me about halfway mad because I know what's going on," Virginia Lasater said later. She said she is "absolutely" sure the law is part of a Republican strategy to keep senior citizens from voting.

The law's sponsor, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, told the AP that he wants every eligible citizen to vote and that his office will help any voter who has trouble getting an ID.

Cooper got her photo ID Thursday on her second try, though it took a call from Republican Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey to the driver's license center in Red Bank to get the paperwork straight.

"It took two tries with someone helping her to get an ID," Puttbrese said. "That's not a success story. That's just an illustration of the problems with this law."

He said there are 200,000 registered Tennessee voters and another 675,000 eligible voters who don't have government-issued photo ID.

As of Thursday, the state had issued 571 photo IDs for voting purposes, Safety Department spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said Friday.

"Even if Republicans thought they were protecting someone's right to vote, the reality is there are about 200,000 registered voters without photo ID out there," Puttbrese said.

"That discrepancy is too big. We are 19 weeks away from the first test of this new law, which will be the March primary. We are running out of time."

Nickas isn't buying it. He said Tennessee law allows people to vote absentee without giving a reason or providing a photo ID. In fact, he noted, Cooper had said after being turned down the first time that she would vote by absentee ballot.

"The simple solution is to make sure she has an application to absentee vote and that's all she needs," Nickas said. "She was propped up as someone who was unable to get a photo ID but she didn't need one."

He said a Republican poll last year found 92 percent of respondents supported a photo ID law to "protect the integrity of the process."

"The last thing we want to see is someone vote to or three times and negate someone's vote, like Ms. Cooper's," he said.

The party is trying to help with public education by distributing information from the state Division of Elections about the law, Nickas said.

"We're about informing voters about this law, not manipulating [Ms. Cooper's} situation to raise money to advance a political agenda."

about Judy Walton...

Judy Walton has worked 25 years at the Chattanooga Times and the Times Free Press as an editor and reporter focusing on government coverage and investigations. At various times she has been an assistant metro editor, region reporter and editor, county government reporter, government-beat team leader, features editor and page designer. Originally from California, Walton was brought up in a military family and attended a dozen schools across the country. She earned a journalism degree ...

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KWVeteran said...

Positive voter identification is a sound and good law. Democrats just don't like to abide by the laws.

October 22, 2011 at 8:36 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

So how is voting absentee a solution to "protecting the process"? I don't see how voting absentee is a solution when there is no verification at all.

Nickas is just trying to stop people from going to the polls. They saw what happened in 2008 and don't want another replay of it. This is blatant discrimination. Either you provide photo IDS for everyone free of charge and with ease to obtain it or you leave it the way it has been. This law is arbitrary and capricious. Republicans knew this when the Attorney General in Tennessee told them this law was illegal and unconstitutional, but they passed it anyway; thus, wasting tax payer dollars and time with unnecessary litigation.

October 22, 2011 at 8:50 a.m.
headcoconut said...

The bulk of voter fraud takes place with those diabol machinges, which swings heavily to the side and in favor of the Republican Party. Any voter fraud at the hands of the voter is quite minor to non-existing in comparison to what those machines can do.

Remember the words of Joseph Stalin: "The one who votes decides nothing! The one who counts the vote decides the outcome!"

October 22, 2011 at 8:52 a.m.
sandyonsignal said...

Right, head cocunut. Those machines can and have been easily hacked.

October 22, 2011 at 8:56 a.m.
Gingerkid said...

First of all, headcoconut clearly has a full understanding of the electronic voting machines, considering the company is called Diebold, not diabol. You have obviously done lots of research on your own to determine your own opinion of the voting machines, instead of just relying on scare mongers' scare tactics. [sarcasm]

Secondly, the assertion that the photo ID law hurts or helps one side more than the other is just plain false. We should all be happy about this step to legitimize the voting process. The instances of dead people voting, people voting more than once, and people who claim to live at addresses where there is no dwelling have all been well-documented, especially in Shelby County. The best way to remedy this problem is to require the photo ID that 99% of voting citizens have on their person all the time anyway--a photo ID. End of story.

October 22, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.
PacoBongers said...

You have to love Republicans. They're the folks who believe that voter fraud is a widespread problem, a problem worth worrying about. But when it comes to bringing firearms into bars, they think that's perfectly kosher, and they can't see how that could possibly be a bad idea.

Glad they've got their priorities straight.

October 22, 2011 at 12:29 p.m.
terrybham said...

The law is about denying other people the right to vote. I can't imagine that there are many toothless old white people that have been denied the way this woman was. Shame.

October 22, 2011 at 12:39 p.m.
sandyonsignal said...

I spoke to Charline Kilpatrick today, she said yesterday Charlotte Mullins from the Election Commission told her that the State called and wanted Ms. Cooper to know she can't vote absentee and go to the polls. She can't vote twice. Of course, Ms. Cooper knows this. I bet the State doesn't have Charlotte Mullins calling every white person and Republican who gets an ID to remind them of this. What an affront to Miss Cooper's dignity.

October 22, 2011 at 2:49 p.m.
Echo said...

Anyone that needs a century to get a photo ID in this country is too block-headed to vote.

What prevents Dorothy Cooper from going to get a photo ID?

Too busy falling asleep in urine soaked Depends while watching Matlock reruns to get down to the DMV?

Not enough 3rd, 4th, 5th generation offspring to drive her there?

Can't stand? There is this thing called a wheelchair....-

Did any of Goebbels's disciples inform the Dorothy Cooper that Barack Hussain thinks old people are not worth the expense of treatment?

Dr. Obama just wants to give old people "a pain pill" instead of treatment.

In his Dr. Obama's own words ==> VIDEO

Maybe someone needs to check the batteries in her hearing aid.

October 22, 2011 at 3:41 p.m.
mymy said...

Right on Gingerkid! It started early in 2008 just to get Obama and Clinton on the ballot.

Although inconvenient to get a picture put on my driver's license which I had opted out of when old enough, I will be happy to do so.

Forgeries uncovered among 2008 Obama, Clinton campaign signatures:

October 22, 2011 at 4:40 p.m.
headcoconut said...

@mymy, I just read that link of yours. Sounds more like some Repub supporters might be up to some of their usual dirty tricks? Attempting to diver attention and show Dems in a bad light?

October 22, 2011 at 7:55 p.m.
hambone said...

Gingerkid, The case in Shelby County that you indicate like all other cases of voter fraud involved misconduct by poll workers.

How do you think requiring a photo ID could ever stop this kind of fraud.

October 22, 2011 at 7:55 p.m.
hambone said...

Very intelligent post Echo!

October 22, 2011 at 8:16 p.m.
patriot1 said...

Anyone that can't see this for what it is has really got issues. This was all staged. Ms. Cooper just happened to show up at the DMV when the tfp was there. Ms. Cooper had her birth certificate which of course showed her maiden name but had no documentation to show how her name got changed. This was all about opposing the new law and making a scene. Surely TFP, you can do better than this.

October 22, 2011 at 9:53 p.m.
Gingerkid said...

@Echo - Please shut up. @mymy - Democrat voter fraud in Shelby County start LONG before 2008. It's been going on for decades. @Hambone - "like all other cases of voter fraud" is certainly a broad stroke. In Memphis, if a person walked into a poll and said he was "Jim Smith" and lives at "123 Main St" but didn't have his voter card, they let him vote in many cases, with no proof that he is Jim Smith. It was not uncommon, after the fact, to discover (i) Jim Smith was recently deceased but not yet expunged from the voter rolls OR (ii) 123 Main St is a vacant lot.

When I lived in Memphis, I was on the GOP team that helped investigate the Ophelia Ford election in 2004(I think that the year). All we needed to find was 14 illegitimate votes to nullify the results. We found 15 without trying hard. Requiring a photo ID is the simplest way to solve both of these common voter fraud techniques.

October 22, 2011 at 10:07 p.m.
mymy said...

headcoconut (or dem hard head)/hambone (or bone head)

“The irony in all of this is that an Indiana Democratic Party staffer and former blogger for the Blue Indiana blog, Thomas Cook, filed a formal complaint in 2008 against the campaign of Sen. John McCain complaining that the petitions he filed in order to make the Republican primary ballot did not contain a sufficient number of signatures. Cook has since completed law school at Indiana University and has become the spokesman for U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett's office in Indianapolis. Republicans called Cook's complaint a "hatchet job". Cook's complaint was dismissed after the allegations he made were proven to be untrue. Cook scrubbed the contents of his highly-partisan and sometimes controversial blog, Blue Indiana, some time ago. Some have questioned Hogsett for hiring such a highly-partisan political hack to work in his office. David Capp is the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana where the alleged forgeries took place. [An earlier post mistakenly named Jon DeGuilio, a former U.S. Attorney who is now the U.S. District Court Judge in the Northern District, as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District].

There should be a prompt investigation launched by a state special prosecutor to look into the findings of this investigative report. You can bet the Obama Justice Department won't allow the U.S. Attorney's in Indiana to open up an investigation, particularly since the occupants of those offices are Democratic appointees, one of whom, Joe Hogsett, was actively involved in the 2008 Obama campaign. Kip Tew, a close friend of Hogsett, chaired the 2008 Obama campaign. He is a partner at Krieg DeVault and has written a book boasting of the success of the 2008 Obama campaign effort in Indiana.”

Also read the 3 comments!

October 22, 2011 at 10:16 p.m.
hambone said...

Gengerkid, The poll workers in Shelby County were the ones that voted for dead people and voted falsely. These poll worker were tried and found guilty.

If what you say is true that someone just walked in gave a false name and voted then a honest poll worker would stop it. How would someone do such a thing and not be on the voter registration rolls unless the poll worker was working with them.

I have had a voter regisration card for 57 years. I had to prove my age, name and where I lived to get it. Each time I moved I had to do the same all over again. I have a photo on my drivers license, but like a lot of people my age the picture is 22 years old. Tennessee puts the same picture on it if I don't want to take time to go get a new picture taken. This could be a problem where I vote I guess if it was not for the fact that it is a small town and everyone knows me.

And we have honest poll workers!!

October 22, 2011 at 11:12 p.m.
Gingerkid said...

@Hambone--I agree that an honest poll worker would stop it. That's the problem. The poll workers don't stop it. The funny part is that you keep referencing "that" case the "the ones." This happens ALL THE TIME. There isn't much documentation/prosecution because there's almost no way in the world to catch the wrong-doers--either they vote as someone else or they walk out the door when told they can't vote--how do you propose we arrest those folks? If the poll worker is allowing people to vote with no registration card, then anybody can walk in and vote as anybody else, unless that person has already voted in that election.

What the photo ID law provides is the basis for a poll watcher (not worker) to challenge a voter who cannot prove who he or she is. Previously, all that potential voter would have to do is sign an affidavit promising that they are the voter on the rolls. Well, if a person is immoral enough to walk into a poll and claim to be someone else, why not sign an afidavit?

Please don't compare your admittedly small town polling place to an inner city poll in Memphis. They might as well be on different planets. I have seen with my own eyes, busloads of voters wait until 10 minutes before the poll closed, then they all got off the buses at the same time and crowded into the polling place, thereby rushing the workers (who just want to go home and are now less likely to demand proof of ID). It works like a charm. Also, the TV news just happened to show up at this "under-served" polling precinct where voters had to wait in line for an hour. Well, they could've voted 10 minutes earlier when no voters were in the building and they were sitting in the parking lot. It's the political games that make me angry. I'm sure it was just a coincidence that the TFP showed up at the DMV and this story broke. It was clearly a setup.

October 23, 2011 at 3:19 p.m.
lightkeeper said...

Some of the conservative GOP controlling state laws along with the ones running Hamilton County, conveniently placed the new drivers license service center in Red Bank where no buses run for those without transportation. One would think if a new drivers license station were placed in a metropolitain area it would be where everyone would have access for first time drivers license and state ID, also you don't have to own a vehicle to have or want drivers license for those who may get upset over this comment and want to nit pick, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out this was done on purpose. Just more dirty sneaky underhanded tactics from a party that claims {some, not all} to be such big christians at face, but racists hypocrites at heart.

October 25, 2011 at 9:05 a.m.
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