We talked about how shameful it is that conservative elected leaders in Tennessee are working hard to deny this person the right to vote:
Dorothy Cooper is 96 but she can remember only one election when she’s been eligible to vote but hasn’t. The retired domestic worker was born in a small North Georgia town before women had the right to vote. She began casting ballots in her 20s after moving to Chattanooga for work. She missed voting for John F. Kennedy in 1960 because a move to Nashville prevented her from registering in time. So when she learned last month at a community meeting that under a new state law she’d need a photo ID to vote next year, she talked with a volunteer about how to get to a state Driver Service Center to get her free ID. But when she got there Monday with an envelope full of documents, a clerk denied her request.
She just wants to be able to vote. In her decades of going to the polls, “I never had any problems,” she said, not even before the Voting Rights Act passed in the 1960s. In her 50-plus years working for the same family, she never learned to drive so she never needed a license. She retired in 1993 and returned to Chattanooga from Nashville. Now, on occasion, one of her bank’s tellers or a grocery store clerk will ask for photo ID when she writes or cashes a check, Cooper said. “I’ve been banking at SunTrust for a long time,” she said. “Sometimes they’ll say, well, do you have a Social Security card?” And she shows it to them. She also has a photo ID issued by the Chattanooga Police Department to all seniors who live in the Boynton Terrace public housing complex, but that won’t qualify for voting.
And we talked about how democracy enthusiasts in Tennessee were fighting back:
In Nashville on Tuesday afternoon, a coalition of organizations announced an effort to repeal the law. Groups such as the ACLU of Tennessee, various chapters of the NAACP, the AFL-CIO and Tennessee Citizen Action announced a petition drive and get-out-the-vote effort.
“This is a nonpartisan issue. It’s a fair voting issue,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Citizen Action, in a phone interview. “It’s all about the legislators seeing that the people of Tennessee don’t want this law.”
Mary Mancini sent us a thank you:
Thank you so much for covering the story of Dorothy Cooper. It’s funny, I had a call from the Lt. Governor’s office to tell me that the state Dept. of Safety was bending over backwards to help Ms. Cooper and that she would get her ID. I told them that was great but there are thousands of Mrs. Cooper’s across the state and then asked, what’s being done about them? There was a very long pause on other end of the phone.
Tennessee Citizen Action and other groups have formed a coalition and are getting signatures on a petition to repeal. More info is at http://www.tnca.org
Thank you again for your coverage of this issue.
Executive Director, Tennessee Citizen Action
If you’re in Tennessee and are a supporter of the traditional US view that Dorothy Cooper holds, and you believe eligible citizens have a right to vote whether they have a driver’s license or not, here is where you can go to help to restore that old-fashioned idea in Tennessee.