96-year-old Chattanooga Resident Denied Photo ID Needed to Vote

October 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Fair Elections, Recent Blog Posts

A day after Tennessee Citizen Action and the No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition held a press conference to launch a petition drive to repeal the Photo ID to Vote law, the Chattanooga Times Free Press is reporting that a 96-year-old Hamilton County resident was denied a photo ID because she didn’t bring the “correct” documentation to the Driver Service Center:

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.

That morning, Cooper slipped a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate into a Manila envelope. Typewritten on the birth certificate was her maiden name, Dorothy Alexander.

“But I didn’t have my marriage certificate,” Cooper said Tuesday afternoon, and that was the reason the clerk said she was denied a free voter ID at the Cherokee Boulevard Driver Service Center.

The No Barriers to the Ballot Box coalition is calling for the repeal of the Photo ID to Vote law because it creates artificial and insurmountable barriers to the ballot box and discourages political participation by senior citizens, the disabled, rural and low-income voters, people of color, and college students.

Dorothy Cooper, a widow with no children, has angels to help her like Charline Kilpatrick, who has been working with residents to get free photo IDs. But not everyone is so fortunate.

Read more.


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4 Responses to “96-year-old Chattanooga Resident Denied Photo ID Needed to Vote”
  1. Tim Buck says:

    This is a non issue! Why has she never voted ever since missing out on Kennedy?? If she was married, then she should’ve taken a copy of her marriage certificate as well since her name is no longer her birth name!

  2. Mary Mancini says:

    Hey Tim, the article says “she can remember only one election when she’s been eligible to vote but hasn’t.” She’s been voting for decades.

  3. Neil Vigliotta says:

    Tim; to your point, it makes no difference if she had or had not voted. Its her RIGHT to vote. Whether she uses that right or not is no ones business. The basis of the democracy is one person, one vote. And regardless of your political views, you must see that the right to vote, as guaranteed in the Constitution. For 225 years there’s not been an issue with voter ID. Now there is? Come on. See it for what it is.


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  1. […] outside of the 440 Loop) and … well jobs. And let’s look at news and messaging, Dorothy Cooper did more for educating Tennesseans about the Photo Voter ID law than anyone because she was a face. This is where traditional media, […]

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