Advocates continue fight against Tenn voter ID law
A legendary Tennessee lawyer whose push for voting rights dated back to the civil rights movement died in August, not long before a new federal report found evidence that he might have had a point about that state’s voter identification law.
Now many of those who worked closely with him say they intend to keep the cause alive.
George Barrett died two months before a new report by the Government Accountability Office found that Tennessee and Kansas, which toughened their voter ID laws, saw steeper drops in election turnout than states that did not.
Voter advocates say the report justifies the need to examine the effects of the voter ID law in Tennessee, one of 33 states to enact laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls. In doing so they hope to rekindle efforts begun by Barrett, a one-man crusader whose courtroom advocacy dated back to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the early 1960s.
In a career that spanned more than 50 years, Barrett also fought for labor rights and handled a case that ultimately desegregated the state’s public colleges and universities.
But he was passionate about the vote, and battled disenfranchisement up until his death at the age of 86.