State launches voter outreach campaign - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State launches voter outreach campaign

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CHATTANOOGA, TN.  (WRCB)  --  A statewide campaign began Tuesday to educate everyone about Tennessee's new voter ID law.  Beginning January first, you'll need a picture ID to vote.

Elections Coordinator, Mark Goins, led the town hall meeting in Hamilton County.  At times Goins faced some pushback questions from voters concerned the law discriminates against the elderly and homeless.

"There's a lot of people out there who think this is going to keep them from voting," says voter, Valerie Wright.  Wright runs a ministry and often works with the homeless.

"A lot of people just don't have birth certificates," she says. 

Wright is fired up about the new voter ID law, and she's not alone.  That's why state officials launched a voter outreach campaign to turn the tide of public opinion.   

"It's not a complex law," says Goins.  "It's new, so people think it's complex."

Goins says the biggest thing voters don't understand is how many forms of ID will work.

"A lot of individuals think the only ID you can use is a driver's license or the special photo card the Department of Safety is issuing," he says.  "That's not true." 

Passport, military ID, gun permits or any other picture ID issued by the state or federal government works, even if the card's expired.

What won't work is a bank card, student ID or anything not issued by the government.

Goins says the law makes provisions for registered voters who don't have pictures on their driver's license.  Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee are exempt.  Anyone 65 or older without documentation to obtain a free photo ID is encouraged to vote absentee.

At the end of the meeting, what resonates most to Wright is the fact that no one will be turned away.  "We're going back to our communities to spread the word," she says.   

Voters who are hospitalized, indigent, residents of a nursing home or can't have their picture taken for religious reasons are also exempt. 

If you don't have valid ID on election day you can still vote by provisional ballot.  You then have two days to show valid ID.

If you're a registered voter in Hamilton County, you can get a free ID by showing your registration card.

If you're not registered you'll need your birth certificate and two other forms of ID.

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