Republican officials at multiple levels have waged a “war on voting” for much of the year, and sometimes, political wars have casualties. Take Dorothy Cooper, an elderly voter in Tennessee, for example. (thanks to P.A. for the tip)
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.
Cooper thought she’d jumped through all of the procedural hoops needed to participate in an election. She brought a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her old voter registration card, and her birth certificate, and asked for her free voter ID card that is now mandated under state law. The clerk denied her request — her birth certificate showed her maiden name, and the 96-year-old voter didn’t have a copy of her marriage certificate.
Keep in mind, Dorothy Cooper has been voting for seven decades, but that was before Republicans decided that an imaginary problem required new restrictions to make it harder for voters to participate.
Indeed, in this specific case, Dorothy Cooper, an African-American woman living in the South, found it easier to vote during the Jim Crow era than under the new Republican rules. She’s found it easier to register before the Voting Rights Act than in 2011.
One of the main GOP proponents of the restrictions in Tennessee, apparently embarrassed, suggested this week senior citizens perhaps should be allowed to vote by absentee ballot without a photo ID.
But Cooper wants to go to the polls and cast her vote. It apparently brings her a sense of pride.
And next year, she’ll likely be one of 5 million Americans that an offensive Republican scheme will keep from the polls.
Feed the Political AnimalDonate
Washington Monthly depends on donations from readers like you.