Driver centers extend hours for new state law
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- A new Tennessee law requires voters to have photo identification in order to cast their ballot.
The Department of Safety is working overtime to help voters get their ID before the Presidential Primaries in March.
Saturday, Driver Service Centers across the state added Saturday hours. In fact, 19 locations were open, including both service centers in Hamilton County.
An employee at the new center in Red Bank says there was a steady flow of folks throughout the day.
Under the new state law, beginning January 1, 2012, voters will be required to show a state or federal issued photo ID to cast a ballot at the poll.
"I came to get a picture on my driver's license," says Ruth Ross of Soddy-Daisy.
She had a driver's license without a picture. She says the process was easy.
"Very efficient, they were very helpful and quick," says Ross.
Earlier this week, the Secretary of State held town hall meetings across all 95 counties getting the message to the public about getting the Id's.
In order to help accommodate the need, centers across the state will be open the first Saturday of every month until March.
Bill Gibbons, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security says, "We are committed to doing what we can to make these ID's accessible to voters who need them and that includes expanding our hours of service. We are altering employees' schedules in order to operate on Saturdays in some locations, at no additional expense to taxpayers."
"I think that's stupid," says Vivian Hensley.
Hensley admits the process was easy but says she has been voting for 40 years and does not agree with the law.
"Back in May when I had my 60th birthday, I opted to get the driver's license with no picture. Then a few months later they come out with 'you have to have a picture on your driver's license in order to vote,'"
Ohers say they will just roll with the punches.
"To me it's a privilege to get to vote. And if that's what we need to do, then that's what we need to do," says Joann Rock of Red Bank.
Acceptable forms of photo ID include a passport, military ID, gun permits or any other picture ID issued by the state or federal government, even if the card is expired.
ID's not issued by the government will not be accepted.
It is free to obtain a photo ID.
Officials say this is not costing taxpayer's anything extra to have the centers staffed.