96-year-old Woman Who Voted During Jim Crow Is Denied Photo ID



  • Times Free Press photo
At age 96, Dorothy Cooper is the new poster child for what's wrong with the state's photo ID voter law. A retired domestic worker living in Chattanooga, she never had any trouble voting even in the Jim Crow era and missed only one election in her entire adult life. But when she went for one of the state's new free photo IDs last month so she could keep voting, they turned her away. Why? Her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander, is on her birth certificate, and she didn't have her marriage license. Her story is on the front page of the Chattanooga Times Free Press today.

It's beginning to dawn on some Republicans that they might have overreached just a tad bit with this photo ID law. Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, is one of the main proponents, and even he is backpedaling. Yesterday, as liberal groups launched a petition drive against the law and the Senate held hearings into whether it's disenfranchising voters, Ketron introduced a bill to let anyone over the age of 60 vote by absentee ballot without a photo ID.

Ketron said he doesn't understand why anyone wouldn't want a photo ID. "They make you proud," he said.

An absentee ballot is the solution that's been offered Dorothy Cooper. But as she told the Times Free Press' Ansley Haman, she prefers to actually go to the polls, even though she has to do it in a walker. That's what makes people proud, not photo IDs. Here's a woman who has gone to her voting precinct to do her patriotic duty her whole life, even when the segregationist laws were intentionally aimed at preventing it. And now they tell her no.

We imagine the network TV reporters will arrive on Mrs. Cooper's doorstep sometime soon. If they don't want to be held up to ridicule around the country, state election officials should go there ahead of time to deliver her photo ID.


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