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The Guardians of Democracy

97-Year-Old Former San Antonio Mayor Turned Away From Voting, Sparks Outrage


97-Year-Old Former San Antonio Mayor Turned Away From Voting, Sparks Outrage

Lila Cockrell, the 97-year-old former mayor of San Antonio, was reportedly turned away from voting last week for lack of identification.

Cockrell, the first female mayor of the city, was one of more than 12,000 people who went to the polls Wednesday to vote in San Antonio’s mayoral runoffs.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that Cockrell did not get to cast a ballot when she couldn’t present an authorized form of ID.

She told the newspaper she was disappointed that she was turned away for not having her driver’s license with her she arrived at her polling location.

“I’m 97, I don’t drive anymore,” said Cockrell, San Antonio’s first female mayor. “I haven’t been on a cruise or anything in years.”

Jacque Callanen, the elections administrator in Bexar County, said the incident was unfortunate but officials don’t have the same discretion they had in the past.

“It was uncomfortable for the election officials to tell her, ‘No.’ Obviously, they knew who she was,” Callanen said. “But the law is the law. The election officials did what they’re supposed to do.”

The paper notes there was previously a method in Texas to allow election officials to account for people they know personally, but that process was removed recently as the state tightened its ID requirements.

“There was always a provision when someone came into vote that if election officials knew who that person was, they just checked a box if they didn’t have an ID,” Callenen said. “That’s how it used to be. They took that provision away.”

Two former San Antonio mayors came to Cockrell’s support and expressed their frustration over the incident.

“You know, that is such a crying shame,” current Bexar County Judge and former San Antonio Mayor Nelson Wolff told the Express-News. “I wish there was a way to get around that. Something should have been done to help her. It’s just terrible.”

Lydia Camarillo, the president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project, said Cockrell’s experience underscores how the voter ID law makes it more difficult for people to vote.

“I’m not surprised that it happened,” Camarillo said. “I’m surprised that it happened to someone as distinguished as our former mayor.”


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