Voting Made More Difficult

Wade Munday is a writer in Nashville. Thank God I’ve never known what it’s like to be denied a vote in an election. For my generation, it’s more likely that we choose not to vote. Some of us are turned off by the political class and their squabbles. Some of us feel better being aloof and disinterested in the political process. And finally, some of us just forget to take part in our elections; we’re too tired, washing our hair or too busy on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November on even years.

For the young at heart who do know what it’s like to be turned away at the polls, I cannot imagine the frustration. For two Tennessee women, Dorothy Cooper (96) and Virginia Lasater (91), they’ve seen politicians take away their vote, give it back to them, and then put up roadblocks to make it more difficult for them.

The leading Republican in the Tennessee Senate claimed he’d never heard of Dorothy Cooper. This underlies a critical problem with Senator Ron Ramsey- he’s never spent time speaking with senior citizens who find it difficult to get to a voting booth. Really? He represents over 200,000 people in East Tennessee and not a single person has found this photo ID requirement cumbersome? Who is he talking to on those listening tours? He doesn’t know Dorothy Cooper or Virginia Lasater, because he’s not courting their vote or representing their interests. The only people standing up for them are the Tennessee Democratic Party and Tennessee Citizen Action.

Rather than bringing more people into our political process, the law excludes people. Rather than making the process better, the law diminishes the voices of individuals who are already not being heard at the ballot box. Further, Tennessee claims the lowest turnout among female voters. This law and the tenor of the debate surrounding it do nothing to encourage voter participation.

Yes, voting is difficult for a lot of people. Some seniors need someone to drive them to the polls. Some students need to arrange to vote around their class and work schedule, and parents need to figure out what to do with the kids. With so many things competing for our time and attention, there’s absolutely good reason to make the process more complicated for those who are already struggling to get to the voting booth. Ron Ramsey, if you’ve never heard about the problem it means you’re ignoring the people you were elected to represent, even the ones that are not going to vote for you.

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