This article was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Voter 'Fraid

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:

Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.

Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.

A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus insisted that Mitchell was given bad information and should’ve been allowed to vote, even with an expired state ID. But even if that’s the case, her ordeal illustrates the inevitable disenfranchisements that result when confusing voting laws enable state officials to apply the law inconsistently.

The incident is the just latest in a series of reports of senior citizens being denied their constitutional right to vote under restrictive new voter ID laws pushed by Republican governors and legislatures. These laws are a transparent attempt to target Democrat constituencies who are less likely to have photo ID’s, and disproportionately affect seniors, college students, the poor and minorities.

As ThinkProgress reported, one 96-year-old Tennessee woman was denied a voter ID because she didn’t have her marriage license. Another senior citizen in Tennessee, 91-year-old Virginia Lasater, couldn’t get the ID she needed to vote because she wasn’t able to stand in a long line at the DMV. A Tennessee agency even told a 86-year-old World War II veteran that he had to pay an unconstitutional poll tax if he wanted to obtain an ID.

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Marie Diamond

Marie Diamond

Marie Diamond is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org. She hails from the great metropolis of Temple, TX. She holds a B.A. in political science from Yale and was a Yale Journalism Scholar. Before joining ThinkProgress, she worked at West Wing Writers, a speechwriting and communications firm. She has also interned for The American Prospect and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and has done development work in South Africa and Kazakhstan.

6 Comments
  1. Daniel Flynn

    Thanks, Marie. Even with today’s instant communications media in the ‘developed’ world, it’s a constant struggle to keep the human rights of all in the forefront. The new Irish President, Michael D. Higgins was elected on his dedication to those the economic development in the past twenty years has left behind. Poverty is relative, but the gap in the U.S. is greater now than when I was born there 72 years ago, when the economic prosperity of the past twenty years  should have reduced it. There is fear among some in the U.S. of the word ‘socialism’, but here in Europe, ‘socialistic’ programs create a gentler society where the advantages of democracy are available to more inhabitants than would otherwise be the case. Democracy for all in the U.S., a former Congressman and friend of mine who has since passed away wrote over forty years ago, is threatened by the increasing amount of political action money pouring into Washington, D.C. and state capitals. All people are created equal, but more and more are neglected in the U.S.  Some, like MSF, try to serve the most deprived in the less-developed countries.  Keep on reporting on ordinary folks whose democratic rights are threatened in the world’s still richest economy. Daniel Flynn, J.D., http://likethedew.com/author/dflynn 

    1. Equality does not mean equity or high quality.  Indeed, it is not obvious that it is quite possible to treat everyone equally shoddily.

  2. No, really, the issue of the 21st Century is whether we are going to have government by the people or the people are going to be governed by traditional cliques who claim to be acting on their behalf, to save us from ourselves or because they know better.
    Yes, only select groups are being disenfranchised, but that’s been the pattern from the start.  If nothing else, “thinning the herd” makes it easier to intimidate the rest.  That’s how segregation always works. An insult to one citizen is an insult to all of us.

  3. OMG RUUUNNNNN! Three examples out of millions of voters and liberals are scraping ans hunting for every little sob story they can find. Lots of people can’t vote in a given election because of ID or record keeping issues. This is not a new problem – it’s not even a problem.

  4. Well people welcome to slavery world of current PRESIDENT [WHO IS HIS SPEECHWRITER FOR HIM]  and CONGRESS greedy careless of over spending the budget . . . welcome to the slave evil devil driven politics that only talk of who to protect and how to raise tax cost for their enjoyment of life, like does your children have full protection of their S.S.N. that scam scum bum hacker don’t use the S.S.N. to get loan without paying for it, since bank don’t match name of person with S.S.N. is who errors of future in life for us ? ? ?

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