Add state Sen. Joe Haynes and his wife, former Nashville Judge Barbara Haynes, to the list of married couples who found trouble at the polls today. Apparently, the outgoing senator found his machine was set for the wrong party's primary while Mrs. Haynes did not have a state or federally issued photo ID and was forced to vote provisionally.
In a statement released to media and posted on the Tennessee Democratic Party's website, Sen. Haynes tells the story and says Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for the law that caused it.
This morning, I woke up with excitement. Today is Election Day. My wife, former Judge Barbara Haynes and I, knew that we were going to go participate in our great American democracy.
As people who care deeply about this state and country, Barbara and I have always valued our right to go to the polls and voice our opinion. When we went to the polls today, however, we were confronted with the human cost of bad public policy.
Barbara was asked for her photo identification. She doesn’t have a photo on her driver’s license so she provided the election workers with her state-issued retirement card and her Metro-issued judge’s pass. The latter included her photo. In spite of the fact that most of the people in our polling place knew us both, she was told she would only be allowed to vote using a provisional ballot. She had been permitted to vote in March using the same identification she provided today. She was told that she would have 48 hours to get the proper photo ID and furnish it to the Election Office to validate her provisional ballot.
Barbara had received her voter ID card several days ago and discovered it had been issued to Joe M. Haynes, not Mrs. Joe M. Haynes as she had registered many years ago. Upon calling the election office, she learned that it was a mistake, and was told to just write “Mrs.” in front of the name and proceed to vote.
To add insult to injury, when I entered the voting booth the machine was set to vote in the Republican primary, even though I had just indicated, in writing and verbally, that I wanted to vote in the Democratic primary. I called over a poll worker to correct the problem. I then learned that another person who was voting at the same time had the same problem.
Barbara and I have never been shrinking violets. We’re both attorney’s. Barbara is a retired judge and I am a State Senator. We know how to protect our rights. What about elderly voters who have been voting the same way for 50 years and don’t have a photo ID card? What about people who are easily intimidated? How many others were turned away from the ballot box today because they didn’t have the proper identification? How many Democrats were directed to the Republican primary?
The photo ID law is a solution searching for a problem. I believe these policies have been developed with malice and forethought to frustrate, bully, intimidate and aggravate legitimate voters. My experience at the ballot box today did not feel like America.
Those who developed and implemented these bad public policies should be ashamed.
However troubled they may be, the polls close in less than an hour. We'll have live updates here on Pith in a forthcoming post.