Cooper, Community Leaders Highlight New Report on Tennessee Voter ID Law
NASHVILLE—U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and several community leaders on Wednesday, October 15, discussed a new government report that focuses attention on voter ID laws in Tennessee.
The report, newly issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), concluded that voter ID laws caused Tennessee turnout to drop 2.2 percentage points from 2008 to 2012.
That translates to 88,000 lost votes, according to an estimate by The Washington Post.
Young people, African Americans and newly registered voters “were the groups that were more likely to see bigger drops in turnout,” the Post wrote.
“Expanding voting rights has always been on the right side of history, while efforts to deny those rights embarrass the children and grandchildren of the opposition,” Cooper said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “Whatever you do, make sure you vote. Don’t let bad laws keep you from making your voice heard.”
Also at the press conference, Cooper suggested several ways to boost turnout and depoliticize the voting process. He said the state should ensure that all high schools – public and private – hold yearly voter registration drives. Such drives already are required by state law.
Cooper also implored the Legislature to change the law to allow college students to use their state-issued IDs to vote; he closed by asking Secretary of State Tre Hargett to remove his name from Tennessee’s traditional “I Voted” stickers. The voting stickers were changed this month, removing the American flag.
Other community leaders who spoke Wednesday morning:
- Debby Gould, League of Women Voters
- Patricia Stokes, Urban League of Middle Tennessee
- Matt Mullen, Tennessee Citizen Action
- Hedy Weinberg, American Civil Liberties Union
- Nicholas Alexiou, American Constitution Society
- Doug Johnston, Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison, LLC
- Jeff Teague, Planned Parenthood
- Rev. Dr. Judy Cummings, Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship