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VOL. 35 | NO. 42 | Friday, October 21, 2011




91-year-old can't get voter ID because of line

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MURFREESBORO (AP) - Ninety-one-year-old Virginia Lasater says she was unable to obtain a voter ID on Wednesday because she was physically unable to stand in a long line at a driver testing center.

Lasater told The Daily News Journal that she has voted and worked in campaigns for 70 years, but she has never had a photo driver's license (http://bit.ly/nTAmKa). When the state began putting photos on licenses, she was already old enough to be exempt from the requirement.

A new law requires voters to show a state or federal photo ID at the polls beginning in January, so on Wednesday Lasater went to a driver's testing center in Murfreesboro to get one.

Lasater's son, Richard Lasater, said the testing center was packed with at least 100 customers. The staffers were overworked, he said, and when his mother couldn't find a chair he was told there was nothing they could do.

Virginia Lasater, who walks with a cane, decided she could not st and in a long line, so the pair left.

"It really makes me about halfway mad because I know what's going on," she said afterward. Lasater said she is "absolutely" sure the law is part of a Republican strategy to keep senior citizens from voting.

The law was sponsored by Republican Sen. Bill Ketron, of Murfreesboro, and Republican Rep. Debra Maggart, of Hendersonville.

Democratic leaders announced this week that they've filed legislation to repeal the law.

Reached for comment, Ketron said he wants every eligible citizen to vote.

"We are willing to work with any voter who has difficulties to assist them in obtaining an ID," he said. "My office has called Mrs. Lasater to assist her."

About 126,000 registered voters in Tennessee have driver's licenses without photos. Another 47,000 registered voters don't have driver's licenses.

The Department of Safety has issued 561 photo IDs for voting purposes since July.

Richard Lasater said his mother has been disenfranchised, likening the photo ID law was to the old South Jim Crow laws.

"It's obviously a bad law and it needs to be fixed," said Lasater, who is white. "Voting ought to be the easiest thing in the world to do."

Meanwhile, Virginia Lasater, who recently moved to Murfreesboro from her farm in Lewisburg to live with her son, said with a wry grin that she'll consider moving back home because "they know me there."

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