An outcry of frustration and confusion was heard across the state yesterday as newly-enacted “Voter ID” laws left hundreds of Tennesseans unable to forget about the August 2nd election.
“It’s my God-given and constitutional right to not give a damn about Party Primary elections” said Franklin Baynard, a retired-plumber from Madison. “At this point in my life, I should only have to think about one election every four years, but there’re actually three this year, and knowing I can’t vote anymore is making it nearly impossible to remain blissfully ignorant of them!”
This sentiment was echoed by several others yesterday, left ineligible to vote this year by a 2011 law which requires all TN voters to produce a state- or federal-issued photo ID at the time of voting. Proponents of the law argue that it’s an effective preventative measure against voter fraud. However, vocal opponents accuse the law of being an attempt to prevent minorities, seniors, and lower-income citizens from taking part in the political process.
State Sen. Colby Mathers, a co-sponsor of the Voter ID law, dismisses such claims as liberal hogwash. “That’s not the idea behind [the law] at all”, said Sen. Mathers. “If a person over 60 in Tennessee chooses to not have a photo on their ID, as is their right, then I’m not trying to stop them; they just have to decide which is more important to them, vanity or voting. And as for poor people, who have no car and don’t need a drivers’ license, maybe this will be an incentive for them to finally get a carry-permit for the guns I bet they’re carrying around illegally anyway. Carry permits do count as a state-issued photo ID, after all. That’s two problems solved right there. I really don’t see what all the fuss is.” When asked about the dispute in Memphis over whether or not City-issued Library Cards (with photo) should be considered adequate documentation, Mathers chuckled. “Don’t be ridiculous. A gun-ID certainly! That shows they’re a responsible citizen. But all a library card would show is that the voter likes to read!”
Nonetheless, in the wake of the Memphis debate, a U.S. District Court judge has recommended the state take a closer look at the wording of the law, and perhaps straighten out the issue of whether or not (and why or why not) City-issued IDs should be allowable. If the law is amended or struck-down, Franklin Baynard says that will make him feel a lot better. “I don’t actually want to vote, but knowing I can’t has me all riled-up. They need to change things and make them right again. I want to be able to wake up the day after an election that I forgot about, and know that I exercised my right to completely ignore it.”
Portrait of fictional “Sen. Colby Mathers” submitted by a devoted reader. Voter ID sign photo found at http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/voter-id.jpg.