TN counties making it easier to get photo ID - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

TN counties making it easier to get photo ID

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Hamilton County is now one of 30 in Tennessee, to issue a photo identification, free of charge, to registered voters. This, after an elderly Chattanooga woman was turned away.

At 96 years old, Dorothy Cooper was denied a photo ID because the name on her birth certificate did not match her married name,which was listed on two other forms of ID, and she couldn't find her marriage license from decades ago to prove her name had changed.

But getting a photo ID just got easier and not just for Cooper. Hamilton County along with 29 other counties in the state are taking steps to make the transition go smoothly.

As for Dorothy Cooper's incident, the state made it very clear that it handled it the wrong way.

Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons says, "I do think that incident should have been handled differently that it was. Mrs. Cooper did not have the correct documentation to show there had been a name change due to marriage, but again, our employees need to use some common sense here."

In light of Cooper's incident that has attracted national attention, Gibbons made a special visit to Hamilton County, announcing not just fault but a few changes.

"We want to do what we can to make sure voters get the identification through our department If they need it," says Gibbons.

Thirty counties statewide including Hamilton, Bradley, Sequatchie, and McMinn will now offer a free upgrade of a non-photo license to a photo license. That can be done at the County Clerks Office.

They're also opening the Driver Service Centers in Hamilton and Bradley County on the first Saturday of each month from November through March.

If those without photo ID's want to vote they must visit one of those locations.

"Well it sort of irritates me, I've gone all these years without a photo, and now I need one so I can vote," says Hamilton County resident Ray Speck.

It's estimated 126,000 Tennesseans do not have photo ID driver licenses. Hamilton County accounts for roughly 7,000. Citizens like Speck say he's only changing his ID to keep his right to vote.

Speck says,"That's it. Period. I've got to have a picture ID so I can vote, and it's very important to vote."

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