Debate continues over Tennessee's voter ID law - WSMV News 4

Debate continues over Tennessee's voter ID law

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It has been two years since Tennessee's voter ID law went into effect, and the battle appears to still be raging.

A new study released by the Government Accountability Office indicates that voter turnout has dropped by 2 to 3 percent in Tennessee since the law went into effect.

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Office said the "non-partisan" study is wrought with problems.

"The most respected government watchdog agency in America has found out that Republicans are suppressing voters on a huge scale in Tennessee," said Rick Herron with the Tennessee Democratic Party.

According to the study, almost 90,000 fewer people voted in Tennessee after the voter ID law went into effect in 2012, a majority of whom were African Americans and young voters.

Herron called those numbers disturbing.

"Almost 90,000 voters were suppressed in 2012, which is half the population of Chattanooga, or the entire cities of Jackson and Dyersburg," he said. "That's voter suppression on a huge scale."

In a seven-page letter, the Tennessee Secretary of State's Office has disputed the report in detail. They said the information cited in the report came from an outside company called Catalyst, which they said is known for being biased against the voter ID law.

"I ended up calling Catalyst to ask them where they were getting their data," elections coordinator Mark Goins said. "They shared with me they were getting it from a gentleman named David Plunk. We do not have a David Plunk who works in our office.

Goins said a quick Google search revealed that Plunk was actually an employee of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

"It's like a puzzle," Goins said. "You can see it come into play. There's a lot of moving parts, but unfortunately, the GAO has attached its name to what I believe is a biased report."

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Democratic Party told Channel 4 News that the information their employee gave out was purchased from the Secretary of State's Office and was not altered in any way.

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