published Monday, January 9th, 2012

Cook: The most insulting law of the year

It was deeply embarrassing, the 5.2-mile drive from Highway 153 to Red Bank.

Shameful. The red-faced and angry way you feel when someone you care about makes a fool out of himself in public.

I thought of my grandfather, a colonel in the U.S. Army who left his family in Tennessee to fight against World War II fascism.

He suffered ... for this?

I thought of thousands of Americans -- beaten and bloodied -- who marched down streets and into jail cells, all so that casting a vote in America would not be a top-shelf prize but a common right given to all.

Many of them died ... for this?

If you want to vote in any election this year in Tennessee, you must have a government-issued photo ID: a passport, gun permit or government employee badge.

Or, the most common: a driver's license.

I'd wager there are thousands of folks in Hamilton County without driver's licenses. Last week, I wanted to see the journey they would have to take to get a photo ID ... without having access to a car.

The last stop on CARTA's Route 16 is on Highway 153, next to Marshall Mize Ford. It's the closest bus stop to the Red Bank driver service center, one of two places in the county where photo IDs are issued.

I drove the 5.2 miles, and imagined what it would be like to walk it.

Riding shotgun with me: anger, embarrassment and one question like a red light that never turned green: This is what our state government does to its citizens?

There are very few sidewalks. There are few places to walk except the ditch, or someone's yard, or sometimes steep embankments. Cars pass, 50 miles per hour.

Halfway through the journey, Ashland Terrace makes a steep descent toward Dayton Boulevard. There is no shoulder

here, and maybe three feet between the white line and guardrail. It would be nearly impossible to walk this road safely.

"It's kind of crazy," said Billy Salisbury, 24, who walks down Dayton Boulevard almost every day to work. "When it's busy, the traffic rides close to me. I have to walk off into the ditch."

The worst part came when I finally got to the driver's center station, which sat back 100 yards or so from Dayton Boulevard.

There was no sign.

Like icing on this bitter cake, the lack of roadside signage symbolized to me everything wrong with this law.

Voting, one cornerstone of democracy, now hidden from us.

Nashville lawmakers, you want to protect the integrity of the ballot box? Why not fund a mobile bus of sorts, able to process quickly a photo ID for registered voters who don't have one? Two buses per county. Park them at supermarkets, drug stores, bus stops.

Fund a massive voter registration drive. Go into schools. Churches. Make it hard not to register to vote.

Make it nearly impossible not to have a photo ID.

But instead, only 48 out of the 95 counties in our state have driver's service centers, the place where citizens without photo IDs can obtain one.

Only 48. Out of 95.

Nashville lawmakers, how dare you.

The onus, the burden, should always and forever be on you. Servant of the public. Elected representative of the people.

You ought to be as aggressive and threatening as Jerry Garcia, but you've yanked the rug out from under thousands of Tennesseans, making voting -- which so many fought and died to keep a freedom -- into something else entirely.

This law proves that the integrity we need to protect is not at the ballot box.

It's in Nashville.

Why don't you start walking?

David Cook can be reached at davidcook@

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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conservative said...

This certainly rates as "The Most Insulting Article Of The Year"

It begins with a war story, then shifts to a strawman argument wherein he depicts but two ways to obtain within a YEAR, that FREE voter ID card. One either drives his car or walks. If one doesn't have a driver's license he must risk his life on foot during a 5.2 mile odyssey to the license bureau.

Now this same person who has no driver's license and car has to rely on friends and family members for transportation for needs and wants such as food, clothing, toilet paper, doctor and dental appointments, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, unemployment checks, food stamps, movies, events, eating out, fishing, hunting, visiting other friends and relatives, and church services.

This person has a third choice and it is certain that this carless person could easly obtain a FREE (the lieberal and Demoncrats favorite word) voter ID card within the course of a YEAR.

January 9, 2012 at 11:17 a.m.
SavartiTN said...

I agree that it is difficult, in many counties in Tennessee, to obtain a drivers license or an ID as there are not enough test stations. My granddaughter in Middle Tennessee wanted to get her drivers license but there was a nearly 3 month wait time before she could even get an appointment to take the driving test. She had to get someone to take her to a drivers station an hour away to get in sooner. But I haven't found that to be an issue in Chattanooga.

I think that the Photo ID for voting is a good thing. It takes away the problem of voter fraud. I have often thought that the law that anyone over 65 does not have to have their picture on their ID or drivers license to be absolutely stupid. Nowadays, with identity theft rampant across the entire nation, why would you NOT protect the over 65 population by requiring a photo on their ID?

I agree with conservative...I am not following how the author's grandfather fighting against fascism or the people who fought in the civil rights movement have anything to do with having to obtain a photo ID to vote.

My children have had a government issued ID since they were 10 years old. IDs are required for many things appointments, getting on a plane, picking up medications, cashing checks, etc.

And as conservative so aptly put it, those without cars manage to get to all of those other places...why should this be any different?

I do think that some people just like to gripe. About anything.

January 9, 2012 at 12:23 p.m.
Mrbrown said...

Maybe they can be bussed in to get ID's like they are when it's time to vote. Sorry this makes voter fraud more difficult.

January 9, 2012 at 1:21 p.m.
davidclark said...

in the past most of these people refused to vote and won't miss having the option of being able to vote. but taking away the rights of future potential voters?

January 9, 2012 at 2:09 p.m.
sangaree said...

It's already been proven, very little voter fraud took place at the hands of the voter. Most voter fraud takes place on the inside. Long after the voters have cast their votes. Even many republicans have acknowledged this. The sole purpose for requiring a photo I.D. is to keep a segment of the population from being allowed to cast their votes.

excerpt from the republican side: Despite claims from the McCain and Palin campaign and Republican politicos that fraudulent registration applications can lead to massive voter fraud, a member of the McCain-Palin Honest and Open Election Committee said in an interview published by that he knew of no case in which a fraudulent voter registration application had led to someone casting a fraudulent vote. Ronald Michaelson

January 9, 2012 at 3:57 p.m.
akingery said...

Refreshing assessment. Hope the "powers that be in Nashville" read it and change this most undemocratic law.

January 9, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
sage1 said...

So....if it's so freak'n hard to get a FREE ID card to vote within a YEAR....then HOW do these people GET TO THE VOTING BOOTH???? I'd say with the help of friends or family maybe? Duh-Huh..... Will the Whining ever end? ONLY legal citizens of the us should be allowed to vote and a photo ID should be required at the booth people. Especially with millions of people in our country illegally!!!! I say again, PHOTO ID YES!!! Just like it is to buy beer. It should also be required to cash your democratic gubment check!


January 11, 2012 at 3:05 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

America, the land of opportunity and freedom for all.

Sage1 says "So....if it's so freak'n hard to get a FREE ID card to vote within a YEAR....then HOW do these people GET TO THE VOTING BOOTH???? I'd say with the help of friends or family maybe? Duh-Huh..... Will the Whining ever end? ONLY legal citizens of the us should be allowed to vote and a photo ID should be required at the booth people. Especially with millions of people in our country illegally!!!! I say again, PHOTO ID YES!!! Just like it is to buy beer. It should also be required to cash your democratic gubment check!


So to vote, Sage1 says we must have friends and family. This insulting law should not be required because there is no public way to comply. If a person cannot use public transportation to get to a public place their wheelchair can traverse, to get a public document, to make a vote, then it is the same as a poll tax. The voting precincts are in the neighborhood, and most likely on public transportation route, or walking distance. The DMV's are not. How about reading the article before asking for your LOUD BREAK.

Right is right and wrong is wrong. And it doesn't matter if a person has friends, family, or drinks beer. Thanks for showing us your integrity and lack of knowledge sage1. Maybe you don't realize it but there are not too many government checks that get cashed. It's plastic and direct deposit now. My mother isn't required to show id for either one of those. Thankfully she lives in a retirement center, so she is exempt. But some of her friends, the ones that cannot afford to live at a center, or do not want to, are the ones having trouble with this.

It is laughable that these jerks think that this law is affecting illegals. The voter fraud scare faux has launched is just to further tear our country apart. This law is affecting our older generation, our poor, legal Americans.

When you deny your own fellow citizens a vote, you will get NO BREAK from me!

January 12, 2012 at 12:46 p.m.
rolando said...

Aw-w-w-w. Poor baby pro-fraud whiners, especially Cookie up there. Run on home to mommie and she will kiss it and make it better.

The opportunity for fraud against the voters abounds; and where there is opportunity there is someone seizing it.

The whiners' complaints have nothing to do with "...deny[ing] your fellow citizens a vote" and everything to do with ensuring their particular political party has the best chance of winning, fraud or no fraud.

ACORN is now dead -- or at least in hiding -- so what is left but voting dead people, multi-state voting, felons voting, illegal aliens voting, the whole nine yards. Closing the fraud loophole doesn't deny anyone their franchise, it protects the franchise of legitimate voters...something we desperately need in light of elections wherein more votes are cast than registered voters, signatures are forged, etc.

Indications in Indiana, for instance, are that The Obama would not have been on their 2008 ballots had the petitions/applications not been forged. Now THAT is fraud affecting our national elections.

In a recent ACORN-style vidcam sting/expose in Massachusetts[??], where Photo ID is not required [and now going the Youtube rounds], numerous "dead people" were handed ballots [returned unused, of course] except for one pollworker who knew the person who died and refused to give out a ballot in his/her name.

January 13, 2012 at 8:24 a.m.

Rolando, who are these people you seem to believe are commiting this kind of fraud? Why can't you produce any significant examples of this instance occurring?

And if you are concerned about it, wh not adopt the measure I have asked for, that the state be required to provide IDs in a proactive fashion? Why do you wish to give the state the power to impose a burden upon you without giving the citizens any protection from abuse?

Your objections here are like the lies about ACORN, a deception and a fraud in itself. You are not interested in protecting voters, you want toget rid of ones who won't vote how you like.

Same with your refences to James O'keefe's recent stunt in New Hampshire. They did not prove anything except that people wanting you to believe a problem was occuring could fabricate it themselves. That's like saying there need toe a law against marrying a pig, then dressing one up in a wedding gown.

But hey, you believe that it is a crime, let us see your support for having those criminas arrested, it is a crime to simply attempt to get a ballot under false pretenses. Ergo, if you believe in punidhing criminals, you will support their arrest. Can we get your support for that, or are you going to dodge with some claim about men's rea?

January 13, 2012 at 4:41 p.m.

Also,the state of Oregon conducts their elections byail. Please conduct an investigation of it, and tell us the results.

January 13, 2012 at 4:58 p.m.
mtngrl said...

This voter ID law is a ridiculous waste of funds to even put in place. There is no evidence of any actual fraud this would solve. If someone really wanted to, what is to stop them from getting a fake ID? Those under 21 have been doing it for many years so it cant be too hard...

Bar bouncers and liqueur store owners have gotten pretty good at spotting some of the fake IDs, but how good do you think the 90 yr old poll workers will be at that?

January 13, 2012 at 5:21 p.m.
rolando said...

You are proposing a massive jump in government employment with your suggestion, happy. It isn't bad enough that they had to open new DL offices just to accommodate the stay-at-homes? If they can get transport to the polling place, a grocery store, a bank, WallysWorld, etc ad nauseum, they can just as easily get transport to the DL office. All of those places and more require a Photo ID to cash a check, withdraw money, vote, use a credit card, etc.

Didn't watch the video, did you, happy? Yeah, right -- it was all put on...just like the ACORN exposes. There are your examples of what happens to voters' franchise when the opportunity for fraud is recorded. But go ahead play ostrich...and pretend it is all about denial of the right to vote. You can't hold the moral high ground with that one.

It is really about the dead and other unqualified people having or presenting the opportunity to vote illegally. One poll worker even said she had no idea whether a registered voter was dead or not...yet still voting.

See,56,57 for the 11th Circuit's opposing opinion against laws like NHs that prohibit recording the actions of public officials in public places. NH doesn't stand a chance in successfully prosecuting O'Keefe, just as ACORN and the NPR didn't.

Those "lies" about ACORN were anything but. Didn't see either O'Keefe or Giles prosecuted, did you? Don't like journalists/activists recording fraudulent activities and/or those exposing the weaknesses in the voting process? That seems to smack of disenfranchising the real voters and minimizing their vote...

ACORN is gone, isn't it? Expose [ex-po-zay] works. And why did you give such short shrift to Ms Giles for her effort leading to their downfall? You cannot stand conservative activist women or something? Do you oppose libtard female Occupiers too?

January 13, 2012 at 5:47 p.m.
rolando said...

mtngrl -- So you don't consider the NH election process to encourage election fraud? Although no fraud was shown during O'Keefe's video clip, the opportunity given to not-so-honorable persons could just as easily occur...after all, they were given the ballots -- and returned them unused. Neither did they explicitly claim those were their names. Watch the video.

You are right; 15 years ago, the street price for false IDs was around $50...hard telling what it is today with all the illegals running around. Two wrongs never did make a never hurts to tighten up the voting process...within constitutional limits, of course.

January 13, 2012 at 5:58 p.m.

Rolando, you might be surprised how many people don't cash checks, or use a bank at all, or who find ways to do that without a Photo ID acceptable to the elections people. Believe it or not, you can have valid ID that's not good at the ballot box. But more people employed? If that's what it takes to do the job properly, that's fine. Think of it like the Census, but only one boost, then after that it's minimal since the backlog would be gone, and after that it's just immigration and births. Which would be something we ALREADY do, so I don't see the problem. And with the added gain that the state cannot hold us hostage to their bureaucracy. Why don't you like that? Why do you insist on putting the state over we, the citizens, in this circumstance? If you were true to your beliefs, you'd be willing to absorb the cost.

Not that you've shown any indication that any substantial increase in employment would be required, or financial outlay at all, but your adamant opposition to doing it properly shows the truth about your motivations.

You don't care about the ID provision doing anything about fraud. You just want to eliminate voters you don't want. You hide behind complaints about expense, but you know what's costly?

Moral bankruptcy.

You've got it. That's why you won't support arresting the criminals in your precious videos. They were shown breaking the law by trying to get those ballots. And it is not about the recording, why would you think I was talking about that? I never mentioned such a thing. I think it's disgusting, but that wasn't a crime that I mentioned. It's about taking ballots under false pretenses. That's the crime.

Shouldn't they be prosecuted? It is the law, you do respect the law, don't you? If we don't prosecute these people, what that send a signal to criminals that you won't be arrested if you commit this crime?

BTW, ACORN wasn't prosecuted, impartial investigations showed no provable evidence of a crime, and that the videos were anything but a fair representation, but you know what? O'Keefe took a plea on a federal charge.

He should have been held accountable for more, but perhaps this time. Too bad you won't realize he is a criminal, and a liar, and a fraud.

Which apparently bothers you, but not when it's somebody saying what you want. That's what you like about him, his lies and deceptions destroyed an organization not with the truth, but with scandal and rumor.

I guess that's why you'll never stand up against the electronic voting systems that have been shown to be in error far more often than any imaginable fraud from lack of photo ID. That means you can rig some elections yourselves.

Or you can just have some show of integrity and say "Ok, then let's make sure everybody has Photo ID" before we start denying them their constitutional rights. It could stop plenty of other identity theft too, and wouldn't that be nice?

January 13, 2012 at 6:37 p.m.
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