Woman, 93, Who Cleaned State Capitol Denied Voter ID

She won't be able to vote in Tennessee for the first time in decades.

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The Tennessee Capitol that Thelma Mitchell cleaned for 30 years (Getty)

Marie Diamond of Think Progress is reporting that Thelma Mitchell, 93, will not be able to vote for the first time in decades because her old Tennessee state ID failed to meet new voter-ID regulations. Mitchell, who cleaned the state Capitol for more than 30 years, was accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she could not produce a birth certificate.

Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in 1918, never had a birth certificate. Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state driver's license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification. 

Diamond writes:

A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus insisted that Mitchell was given bad information and should’ve been allowed to vote, even with an expired state ID. But even if that’s the case, her ordeal illustrates the inevitable disenfranchisements that result when confusing voting laws enable state officials to apply the law inconsistently.

How sad is it that this woman, who literally cleaned the state Capitol -- a former state employee -- is being denied the right to vote with an ID issued by the state. This is just another example of how some of these voter-ID laws will be used against the poor and disenfranchised. It's not about getting new identification -- it is about states refusing the proof of identification that you already have.

We won't even mention the fact that black Americans are not immigrants. Many of us have been here longer than those checking IDs and the families of those passing these ridiculous laws in order to "take back" a country that was never theirs in the first place.

How ironic is it that the election of the nation's first black president has coincided with the passage of laws that will deny the right to vote to people who survived de facto segregation and gained the right to vote during their lifetimes? Is this what we call a democracy?

Read more at ThinkProgress.org.

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