NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security today announced that 9,492 photo IDs had been issued for voting purposes from July 1 through December 31, 2011. The vast majority (8,989) of those issued were non-photo driver licenses converted into photo driver licenses, while 503 were original photo identification cards.
Effective January 1, 2012, a new state law requires citizens to present a federal or state-issued photo ID to vote at the polls. The law also requires the Department of Safety and Homeland Security to issue photo IDs for voting purposes at no charge.
“I am encouraged by the number of photo IDs issued for voting purposes since July 2011. We have several options available to make photo IDs available for those who need them, including our Saturday business hours and county clerk partners. Hopefully, the number of photo IDs issued will continue to increase as we get closer to the presidential primary in March,” Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.
The department’s 30 county clerk partners have contributed to today’s figure with 2,333 voter IDs issued. They are converting non-photo driver licenses to photo driver licenses for voters who need them free of charge.
In addition, on this Saturday, January 7, the state will open 19 driver service centers for citizens who need a photo ID for voting purposes, and will also open on the first Saturday of each month through March for the purpose of issuing voter photo IDs only.
“The Iowa caucus is over, and the presidential primary season is in full swing. Tennessee’s presidential primary will be here before you know it, so I strongly encourage anyone who doesn’t already have a valid photo ID to get one as soon as possible,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Having Saturday operating hours at the state driver service centers makes getting an ID easier and more convenient,” Hargett added.
The driver service centers that will be opened on the first Saturday of each month are located in the following counties: Davidson (Centennial Blvd. and Hart Lane), Hamilton (both locations), Knox (both locations), Shelby (East Shelby Drive and Summer Avenue), Sullivan, Sumner, Rutherford, Washington, Williamson, Montgomery, Blount, Bradley, Putnam, Greene, and Carter.
The centers will be open normal business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
To minimize the possibility of wait times during Saturday hours, groups or organizations planning to make a group visit to a driver service center should schedule an appointment by calling Linda Cone at 731-225-0924 or Wanda Adams at 615-251-5300.
Since July 1, 2011, the Department has seen a steady increase in the number of photo IDs issued for voting purposes. To date, the month of November has earned the highest number of voter IDs issued across the state with 3,600.
For more information on the new voter photo ID law, including acceptable forms of photo identification and documents needed to obtain a photo ID for voting purposes, please visit the Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s website at www.tn.gov/safety
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s (www.TN.Gov/safety) mission is to ensure the safety and general welfare of the public. The department encompasses the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Office of Homeland Security and Driver License Services. General areas of responsibility include law enforcement, safety education, motorist services and terrorism prevention.