Here’s an interesting story out of Tennessee, but it is an issue that is becoming increasingly relevant in a number of states including Texas.
Dorothy Cooper, a 96-year-old African-American resident of Chattanooga, Tenn., was prohibited from voting because of the state's new photo ID requirement, according to a recent article by CNN.
In 2011, Republicans in Tennessee passed a law requiring all voters to show current, government-issued photo identification before voting in person, said the article.
Mrs. Cooper reportedly only had a Social Security card and a photo ID issued by the Chattanooga Police Department for seniors in her housing complex.
Born in a small town in northern Georgia before women could vote and when Jim Crow laws were rampant, Cooper has voted for the past 70 years, missing only one election, in 1960 when a move made her miss the registration deadline.
Despite living through the Civil Rights movement and the passage of the Voting Rights Act 1965, this new state law has proved to be Cooper’s only obstacle to being able to vote.
With the 2012 presidential elections looming shortly ahead, this ID issue could prove to be major issue for voters at the polls.
As of September, 30 states required all voters to show ID before voting at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In 14 of these, the ID must include a photo of the voter, while the remaining 16 deemed non-photo forms of ID acceptable.
Voter ID laws can be broken down into the three following categories: Strict Photo ID (7 states): Voters must show a photo ID in order to vote. Voters who are unable to show photo ID at the polls are permitted to vote a provisional ballot, which is counted only if the voter returns to election officials within several days after the election to show a photo ID. At the beginning of 2011, there were just two states--Georgia and Indiana--with strict photo ID laws. Two states--Kansas and Wisconsin--passed new strict photo ID laws this year, and three states with non-photo ID laws--South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas--amended them to make them strict photo ID laws. None of these new laws is in effect yet, although they likely will be before the 2012 elections. See the notes below Table 1 for more information regarding effective dates for new legislation.
Photo ID (7 states): Voters are asked to show a photo ID in order to vote. Voters who are unable to show photo ID are still allowed to vote if they can meet certain other criteria. In some states, a voter with ID can vouch for a voter without. Other states ask a voter without ID to provide personal information such as a birth date, or sign an affidavit swearing to his or her identity. Voters without ID are not required to return to election officials after the election and show a photo ID in order to have their ballots counted in the manner that voters without ID in the strict photo ID states are. The seven states with photo ID laws are Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan and South Dakota.
Non-Photo ID (16 states): All voters must show ID at the polls. The list of acceptable IDs is varied and includes options that do not have a photo, such as a utility bill or bank statement with the voter's name and address
Here are the details of voter identification requirements in Texas (Election Code §63.001 et seq. NOTE: TX's new photo ID law takes effect after preclearance by the USDOJ.)
Requirements: Existing law: On offering to vote, a voter must present the voter’s voter registration certificate to an election officer at the polling place.
New law: On offering to vote, a voter must present to an election officer at the polling place one form of identification.
Acceptable forms of ID:
Voter registration certificate
Department of Public Safety ID card
A form of ID containing the person’s photo that establishes the person’s identity
A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is
admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity U.S. citizenship papers A U.S. passport Official mail addressed to the person, by name, from a governmental entity A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the person’s name and address Any other form of ID prescribed by the secretary of state New law: Driver's license Election identification certificate Dept. of Public Safety personal ID card U.S. military ID U.S. citizenship certificate U.S. passport License to carry a concealed handgun issued by the Dept. of Public Safety
All of the above must include a photo of the voter. With the exception of the certificate of citizenship, these forms of ID cannot be expired
Voters without ID:
Existing law: A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate when offering to vote, but whose name is on the list of registered voters for the precinct in which the voter is offering to vote, shall be accepted for voting if the voter executes an affidavit stating that the voter does not have the voter’s voter registration certificate in the voter’s possession and the voter presents other proof of identification. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and cannot present other identification may vote a provisional ballot. A voter who does not present a voter registration certificate and whose name is not on the list of registered voters may vote a provisional ballot.
New law: A voter who fails to present the required identification may cast a provisional ballot. The voter must present, not later than the sixth day after the date of the election, the required form of identification to the voter registrar for examination OR the voter may execute, in the presence of the voter registrar, an affidavit under penalty of perjury stating that the voter has a religious objection to being photographed or that the voter does not have identification as a result of a natural disaster declared by the president or the governor which occurred not earlier than 45 days before the date the ballot was cast.
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