Protect 96-Year-Old Dorothy Cooper's Right to Vote


In her column at CNN, contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile examines the recent spate of voter-identification laws pushed by the Republican Party that could disenfranchise eligible voters. She recounts the story of Dorothy Cooper, 96, of Chattanooga, Tenn., who has effectively been prevented from voting because of the state's new photo-ID requirement.

(CNN) — Dorothy Cooper is a 96-year-old African-American resident of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She was born in a small town in northern Georgia before women could vote and when Jim Crow laws mandated racial segregation. Her life has spanned nearly a century of progress: The 19th Amendment extended suffrage to women, the Civil Rights movement led to the dismantling of segregation laws, and the Voting Rights Act outlawed overt racial discrimination in elections.


Mrs. Cooper has always honored this past by voting. In 70 years, she has missed only one election, in 1960, because a move made her miss the registration deadline. Despite living through an era when African-Americans were routinely turned away from the ballot box — and worse — Mrs. Cooper said she "never had any problems" exercising her rights. Even before the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965.

Until now. 

Last week Tennessee effectively prohibited her from voting because of the state's new photo ID requirement.

In 2011, Republicans in Tennessee passed a law requiring all voters to show current, government-issued photo identification before voting in person. Mrs. Cooper has a Social Security card and a photo ID issued by the Chattanooga Police Department for seniors in her housing complex. 

Read Donna Brazile's entire column at CNN.

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