96 Year Old Tennessee Woman, Dorothy Cooper, Denied Free Photo ID because She Didn’t Have Her Marriage Certificate

Dorothy Cooper, a retired domestic worker who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn., was denied a free voter ID because she did not have her marriage certificate, despite showing the clerk at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center, a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate. Did I neglect to mention Dorothy Cooper is black? Well, she is. You see, the new state law requires a photo ID to vote next year and Ms. Cooper wanted to do the right thing by getting the ID early.

Tennessee Republicans, like a handful of counterparts in several other states, perpetuating the lie that there is widespread voter fraud. They passed a voter identification law earlier this year that they claim would put an end to voter fraud and ensure fair elections. Of course, the Tennessee law, like similar laws in other states, have come under scrutiny by the NAACP and the ACLU, who maintain the elderly, poor and black voters will be disenfranchised as a result.

Cooper visited the state driver service center with Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs. After the clerk denied Cooper’s request, Kilpatrick called a state worker, explained what happened and asked if Cooper needed to return with a copy of the marriage certificate.

“The lady laughed,” Kilpatrick said. “She said she’s never heard of all that.” Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said in a Tuesday email that Cooper’s situation, though unique, could have been handled differently.

“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls said. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.” Source: Times Free Press

I can understand the reluctance to issue the free photo ID if the names don’t match, but there are other types of documentation that could have been requested to help Ms. Cooper. Have we no compassion for the elderly in this country? It’s preposterous to deny this woman because she didn’t have a marriage certificate in her possession at that moment. For goodness sake, she outlived two husbands. She doesn’t have a driver’s license because she never learned to drive and most likely never felt she needed to in the first place.

This article was cross-posted from The Hinterland Gazette.