A new law that will require voters to show a valid photo ID at the polls won't go into effect until next year, but in preparation for this new requirement, the DeKalb County Election Commission will hold a town hall meeting to inform the public of the change in the law.
The meeting is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 1, on the first floor of the DeKalb County Courthouse. The purpose of the meeting is to present information regarding the new law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012. The town hall meeting will include a presentation, followed by a question and answer period.
The major points of the law include:
•A voter is required to produce a federal or state government-issued photo ID before being allowed to vote. Some examples of a valid photo ID, even if expired, are a Tennessee driver license, U.S. passport, Department of Safety photo ID card, state or federal employee photo identification card, or a U.S. military photo ID. Student college IDs will not be accepted for voting purposes.
Free photo IDs may be obtained from any Department of Safety driver license testing station. Registered voters must sign an affidavit stating that the photo ID is for voting purposes, that they are a registered voter, and that they do not have any other valid government-issued photo ID. The Department of Safety will not issue a free photo ID if the person already has a valid government-issued photo ID
•Voters who are unable to produce a valid photo ID will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, which is a paper ballot, at the polls. Voters casting a provisional ballot will have until two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID.
•Voters with a religious objection to being photographed, or voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee - for example, the voter cannot pay for a birth certificate for proof of citizenship - may sign an oath affirming to the information and will be allowed to vote on the machines.
•Voters who vote absentee by mail, voters who are hospitalized, and voters who live in licensed nursing homes or assisted living centers and vote at the facilities are not required to show photo IDs. Registered voters over the age of 65 may request an absentee ballot and vote by mail.
“The goal of the town hall meeting is to educate the public and prepare voters for the upcoming 2012 elections,” Dennis Stanley, administrator of elections said. “We want voters to have plenty of time to obtain a valid photo ID if they do not already possess one. We encourage everyone to attend the November 1 meeting.”
Starting November 5 Driver License Stations in 15 counties, including Putnam and Rutherford will be open on the first Saturday in each month to make photo driver licenses or Ids for voting purposes only. No other business will be conducted in the centers on Saturdays. The hours of operation will be 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. in Cookeville at 4600 South Jefferson Avenue (phone 931-528-5669) or in Murfreesboro at 1035 Samsonite Boulevard (phone 615-898-8036)
The following centers will be open for weekday visits:
McMinnville at 594 Vervilla Road (phone 931-668-9304
Lebanon at 725 Elkins Drive ( phone 615-443-2757
There are a number of safeguards in the law to ensure eligible voters are not disenfranchised. The photo ID requirement does not apply to:
.People who vote absentee by mail
.People who vote in licensed nursing homes or assisted living facilities
.People who are hospitalized
.People who have religious objections to being photographed
.People who are indigent and cannot obtain photo IDs without paying fees
Voters who forget to bring photo identification to the polls may cast provisional ballots and return to their local election offices with proof of their identities within two business days after elections.
For more information about the new voting requirements, contact Mark Goins, coordinator of elections, or Andrew Dodd, elections specialist, in the state Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959 or your local county election commission at 597-4146, Room 104 of the DeKalb County Courthouse in Smithville.