Rep. Favors in House floor speech: Let my 94-year-old mother vote

State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, celebrated her mother’s 94th birthday on the House floor Thursday by pointedly telling the GOP-controlled chamber her mother can’t vote in Tennessee because of a 2011 law, reports the Times-Free Press.

“She taught school until well into her 70s and was always civically engaged,” Favors said. “Now she’s disheartened because she’s one of those individuals who was never issued a birth certificate.”

As a result, Favors said, her mother is “unable to obtain a photo identification license so that she can vote” under state law. “She loves Tennessee and is a citizen. And we hope she will be afforded the opportunity to vote before she transitions from this life.”

Favors said it’s not just her mother who has problems. A number of Tennessee senior citizens face similar issues, which is why she is offering a bill to remedy the situation, the lawmaker said.

She said when her grandmother gave birth to her mother back in 1923, it wasn’t in a hospital. Family members and neighbors attended the birth.

“They wouldn’t even let us in the hospital then,” said Favors, who is black. “It wasn’t even a midwife.”

There are a dwindling number of other Tennessee seniors facing similar problems, she said.

Favors’ bill (HB184)is pending in the House Local Government Subcommittee. It seeks to make it easier for Tennesseans age 65 and older to meet requirements to obtain official photo identification issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

The safety department issues non-driver’s license photo IDs as well as driver’s licenses. Those and other state ID, like a handgun-carry license or federally issued photo ID such as a passport, are required to show at Tennessee polls under the voter ID law passed after Republicans assumed control of the entire General Assembly six years ago.

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