State election officials are strongly disputing a report from U.S. Government Accounting Office that says Tennessee’s voter identification law requiring photos on acceptable forms of ID has reduced turnout by two to three percent, but the Tennessee Democratic Party defends the numbers.
“Look at who they are comparing us to, look at what they are saying,” Tennessee Election Coordinator Mark Goins told News 2. “It’s really discouraging to see a report released in this manner taken seriously.”
“Two to three percent is more than enough to swing an election,” Tennessee Democratic Party spokesperson Rick Herron said. “The GAO report is the gold standard. It’s highly respected and nonpartisan.”
Goins had a long list of criticisms that were mainly laid out in a seven-page letter that was included in the GAO report.
In the letter, Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett said the “GAO used data from a biased political agent” and “the states to which we believe Tennessee elections were compared had compelling issues or candidates on the ballot which worked to increase voter participation.”
To News 2, Goins cited Delaware which had Sen. Joe Biden on the presidential ballot in 2008, and a state like Arkansas which voted on allowing medical marijuana.
He also pointed out the study was called for by Democrats in the U.S. Senate who had opposed voter ID laws.
Goins was also critical of the company called Catalist that provided the data to the GAO.
He said his office could not confirm the data in the GAO and called the company “and explicitly ‘progressive’ data firm, with clients affiliated with the Democratic Party.”
Herron responded that the lengthy 183-page report excluding appendices addresses each of the issues disputed by Goins and Secretary of State Hargett.
He called the methodology “robust” and that “multiple data sources” were used.
Like Goins, who was formerly a state Republican lawmaker, the Democratic Party spokesperson sees the issue in partisan terms.
“Between an authoritative source like the GAO and the Republican Party that rammed through this law, I am going to trust the GAO,” added Herron.
He added that people should remember the state’s voter law is estimated to have “disenfranchised 90,000 Tennesseans.”