A scoffing Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey dismissed claims that the state’s new photo ID law will disenfranchise voters and pledged to personally help anyone — even Democrats — obtain the proper identification if need be.
“All that’s just hypothetical,” Ramsey said of Democratic contentions that tens of thousands of the poor and elderly will be turned away at the polls in next year’s elections when photo ID is required.
Would-be voters without acceptable government-issued photo ID reportedly have waited three or four hours for the free identification cards now offered at state driver service centers. But Ramsey said he is skeptical that many people have waited so long.
“I feel confident that if someone would call and let us know that they are going to have to stand in line for three hours, we’ll make sure that they get a photo ID,” Ramsey told reporters. “So when you hear about one of those cases, please call my office … and we’ll go pick them up and take them.”
Asked whether he really wanted to publicize such a promise, Ramsey laughed, saying, “Oh absolutely. Tell them to call us. We’ll work something out.”
What about Democrats? he was asked.
“Tell them to call us.”
This week, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin came to Nashville and accused Tennessee Republicans of working in cahoots with the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council to try to deny Democrats the right to vote through the photo ID law. Ramsey called that charge “absolutely ridiculous.”
“I can honestly say I’ve not talked to one Republican or anybody who stands for a Republican outside of the state of Tennessee that’s said this would be a good idea. This is something we’ve tried to advance in the Republican caucus of Tennessee for six or eight years.”
Republicans contend the law is needed to combat voter fraud. Yet state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins can name only one confirmed case of voter impersonation in Tennessee.
Asked about that, Ramsey recalled the 2005 special election that sent Ophelia Ford to the state Senate.
“There were at least four dead people who voted in that election.
Obviously, somebody impersonated them.”
“All we’re trying to do is make sure we’re following the law and that people who vote are who they say they are and are legally supposed to be voting,” he said.