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VOL. 36 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 14, 2012

Mentally challenged Knoxville woman denied vote

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NASHVILLE (AP) - A 60-year-old Knoxville woman who has voted in every election since she registered at age 18 was stopped from casting a ballot in the Aug. 2 primary.

According to The Knoxville News Sentinel (http://bit.ly/RWtuLM), poll workers told Libby Miller the photo ID from the Knoxville Transportation Authority she presented wasn't sufficient proof of who she is.

State law now requires voters to have a state or federally issued photo ID.

After an hour-long wait at a driver license center, Miller - who is mentally challenged - was told the cost would be $17.50 for an ID state officials had announced was free.

Vi Miller - Libby Miller's mother, who is 82 - said the attendant then checked the birth certificate they brought and said it wasn't certified and couldn't be accepted.

"We have been on a wild-goose chase," Vi Miller said.

Jennifer Donnals, spokeswoman for the state Department of Safety and Homeland Securi ty, said photo IDs are free only for those who need them to vote. Otherwise, there is a charge. Clerks are supposed to ask if the ID is needed for voting and there is a separate application form.

"When we catch something like that, we have refunded the money," Donnals said.

The family has since made separate trips to state offices to get a certified copy of the birth certificate, which cost $13, and to the Knoxville Social Security office.

Vi Miller said the attendant there was so helpful that she wrote a complimentary letter to the Social Security Administration.

She also wrote a letter of complaint to state Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, who knows the family.

But Libby still didn't have a proper ID on Thursday and the family was set to try again. Libby expects to vote in the November presidential election.

"I'm sure it's frustrating when you show up with what you think is the right stuff, then be turned away," Massey told the news paper.

However, Massey said she still supports the photo ID law and said no one but the Miller family has told her they were denied a chance to vote.

The state documented 284 people statewide who voted by provisional ballot after not having proper ID. Of that number, 115 later came to board of election offices with valid proof of identity and their votes were counted.

There is no record of how many simply left polls after being denied.