Hamilton County Democrats heralded the first successful strike against state photo ID voting laws and pledged to step up efforts to repeal a similar Tennessee law, set to go into effect next month.
A federal judge last week rejected the South Carolina voter ID law, labeling it discriminatory against minorities. State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said the decision gave Tennesseans “much needed leverage of our efforts to repeal the law.”
In a statement released Sunday, Favors, who founded the Tennessee Voters Assistance Coalition (TVAC) following passage of the GOP-sponsored bill, said the law was spurred by the large increase of minority voters in the 2008 election.
“Preventing voter fraud was the reason cited for passing this law, but that is absolutely not a legitimate argument for it,” Favors said. “There is no evidence of any widespread fraud. The real reason for passage of this law is voter suppression. The 2008 election turned out massive numbers of minority voters and the law is an attempt to suppress that.”
Favors said TVAC will continue its work helping people meet requirements of the new law so they may vote in the May 2012 elections.
Tennessee’s Republican lawmakers have said they think the law is reasonable. They said the state is conducting a statewide effort to educate people about the requirements and is issuing state-approved IDs from the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said the law’s sponsors weighed the pros and cons of the bill when they drafted it. “Most of the complaints have to do with the hassle factor and not to do with the principal behind the law,” he said.
Chattanooga made national news when when 96-year-old Dorothy Parker, an African American, was denied a state-issued ID because she could not produce a marriage certificate showing her name change.