Voter Suppression – The Case Of 96 Year Old Dorothy Cooper

In all her years of voting, 96-year-old Dorothy Cooper from Chattanooga Tennessee never had any issues, in fact, she admits to only missing one election in the last 70 years – the vote for John F. Kennedy in the 60’s, because she moved and couldn’t register in time.

But now we have Republicans who have gone on a rampage, trying to suppress and discourage as many voter from the poor and minority communities as they possibly could. And Dorothy Cooper is now fighting to vote in the 2012 elections.

Mrs. Cooper heard that a voter ID will be required to cast her vote in 2012. She gathered a few pieces of documents  – a rent receipt, her birth certificate, a copy of her lease and her voter registration card, and headed down to her local ID office, only to be turned away without an ID. According to the clerk, she needed to present a marriage certificate showing her last name is Cooper and not Alexander, as it appears on her birth certificate.

“But I don’t have my marriage certificate,” Mrs. Cooper told the clerk, but it was to no avail as she was denied the Voter ID.

Tennessee Department of Safety spokeswoman Dalya Qualls said in a Tuesday email that Cooper’s situation, though unique, could have been handled differently.

“It is department policy that in order to get a photo ID, a citizen must provide documentation that links their name to the documentation that links their name to the document they are using as primary proof of identity,” Qualls said. “In this case, since Ms. Cooper’s birth certificate (her primary proof of identity) and voter registration card were two different names, the examiner was unable to provide the free ID.”

Despite that, Qualls said, “the examiner should have taken extra steps to determine alternative forms of documentation for Ms. Cooper.”

The State has promised to work with Mrs. Cooper, to get her the Voter ID.

Mrs. Cooper’s case will not be an isolated one. As the elections approach, it is expected that this story will be repeated hundreds of thousands of times, as people all across the nation come face to face with these new Republican voting laws. And although Mrs. Cooper is determined to get her voting ID, the same cannot be said about the majority of individuals who already feel disenfranchised and discouraged by the process. These people will eventually pack it up and call it quits, which is exactly what the Republicans are hoping for.

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