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Driver services center helps voters meet photo ID law

Jennifer Sprouse • Nov 3, 2012 at 9:49 PM

Up until Saturday, Betty Klepper of Kingsport, said whenever she’s been asked for a photo ID, she’s had to present her Sam’s Club card, because her driver’s license, like many people of her generation, did not have a photo on it.

Klepper said for so long after reaching a certain age, photos on driver’s licenses have not been required, but new voting laws require some government issued photo ID at the voting booths, which was one of the reasons she made the trek into the Washington County Driver Services Center around 11 a.m.

“No license, no vote,” she said. “I ... haven’t voted in the last one or two (elections) just because I had to come and get this. It was something I wanted to do.”

She said with the election happening Tuesday, time was ticking to get everything together to cast her ballot, but said she was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t have to wait in line Saturday.

“We came from Kingsport because I figured there would be a big crowd there and then I couldn’t believe it where there wasn’t anybody here,” Klepper said.

Alex Barger, district manager of District Five Driver’s Services, said while there were just a few people wandering in for voter IDs since they opened Saturday morning, he said they’ve seen quite a few people come in during weekday hours.

“We’ve had a lot more people coming in throughout the week for the free photo IDs. A lot of them have been coming in earlier or later, whenever they can get a ride down through here,” Barger said. “Mainly, it’s the elderly who want to come down here and get a free photo ID, but it’s not limited to just the elderly. Anybody who needs a photo ID to vote in this election can come down here and we can give it to them.”

He said anyone needing an ID to vote can even come in on Election Day to get their ID.

“As of October, we have issued just under 25,000 free voter IDs and we’ll still be doing it next week and continue until we get everybody in there who needs a free voter ID,” Barger said.

He said the lack of people in the driver services center Saturday could be proving that people have chosen to be proactive about getting their IDs, which is something he said is important to the voting process.

The differences between a regular driver’s license and just the photo ID are minimal, Barger said, as the regular license is horizontal and the photo ID is vertical with the words “Not for driving purposes” printed on the card.

Linda Hardin of Elizabethton said she also came to the Johnson City center Saturday for convenience purposes.

“I went to another office to get my driver’s license switched over to my photo ID and didn’t get waited on, so we came to Johnson City. We can walk in and get it done and have the rest of the day,” Hardin said. “It seems like now, everywhere you go, you need a photo ID and I didn’t have one.”

The center will open again Monday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

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