Alabama, a Voter ID State, Closes Driver License Offices in Heavily Democratic Counties
The state of Alabama, which enacted a voter identification law in 2011 and allowed it to go into effect virtually within seconds of the U.S. Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act, evidently decided that it still hadn’t made it hard enough for its African-American citizens to vote. So it just threw up another roadblock to justice, closing driver’s license bureaus in the counties with the highest black population, making it more difficult to get IDs.
Leaving aside the Republican fable that voter fraud is an actual problem and that it can be cured by requiring photo IDs, it’s true that the state is having financial problems, mostly brought on by its Republican-dominated legislature’s unwillingness to enact reasonable taxes. So it’s not surprising that cuts were made, but it seems hardly coincidental that they affect the segment of that state’s society that can least afford them.
Of the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters, eight had their licenses offices closed. The offices will be closed in every county in which African-Americans make up 75% or more of registered voters, making it that much harder to get the identification Republicans say is needed to vote in that state.
“It’s not just a civil rights violation. It is not just a public relations nightmare. It is not just an invitation for worldwide scorn and an alarm bell to the Justice Department. It is an affront to the very notion of justice in a nation where one man one vote is as precious as oxygen. It is a slap in the face to all who believe the stuff we teach the kids about how all are created equal,” the Birmingham News’ John Archibald wrote.
Alabama Democrats are looking into filing a complaint with the Justice Department about the move. But for now, it seems that the state has found another way to stand in the door of the polling site, just as former Gov. George Wallace stood in a school doorway five decades ago to keep black students from enrolling at the University of Alabama.
To Learn More:
Alabama, Birthplace of the Voting Rights Act, Is Once Again Gutting Voting Rights (by Ari Berman, The Nation)
Alabama Sends Message: We Are Too Broke To Care About Right and Wrong (by John Archibald, Birmingham News)
Voter ID: What Oregon Gets Right and Alabama Gets Wrong (by Kyle Whitmire, AL.com)
Voter ID and Driver’s License Office Closures Black-Out Alabama’s Black Belt (by Kyle Whitmire, AL.com)
Are “Free” Voter IDs Not Really Free for the Poor and Elderly? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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