96-Year-Old Chattanooga Resident Denied Voting ID

Dorothy Cooper was denied a voter ID by the state of Tennessee because she did not have a marriage certificate, she said.

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Documents submitted by Dorothy Cooper (Chattanooga Times Free Press)

With an increasing number of state governments creating new barriers to voting, now comes this story by Ansley Haman at the Chattanooga Times Free Press about Dorothy Cooper. The 96-year-old retired domestic worker -- who can recall only one election she was eligible to vote in but didn't -- was recently denied a free voter ID because she lacked proper documentation. Seriously?

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.

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

"But I didn't have my marriage certificate," Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.

Tennessee is just one of many states enacting new laws to make it harder for certain groups, Democrats in particular, to register to vote. It's clear that the laws -- many of which will be in place by the 2012 presidential election -- target the elderly and poor, many of them African Americans, who for the most part vote Democrat. How many more state-sanctioned assaults on voting rights will we witness during the election season?

In other news: Steve Jobs Dead at 56.

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