Alabama, a Voter ID State, Closes Driver License Offices in Heavily Democratic Counties

Sunday, October 04, 2015
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R)

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.

-Steve Straehley

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)

Comments

Jackie Rawlings 11 months ago
History repeated but up graded from Jim Crow. Now a law requiring ID but blacks denied an ID. Which this makes the voting rights act void. Now the Bama football game was great and wow Minkah Fitzpatrick got that great touch down and cheers from all the crowd for his score. But Minkah can't vote he has no right, but he can bring pride, a win and money to Bama. Much like the 1940's when blacks could serve and protect our nation in the WW2 war but should they live the came home to discrimination, segregation, no rights and could not vote. Welcome back America
Cannoliamo 11 months ago
"I understand the concern in regards to voting and access to proper ID to vote," Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier said Thursday night. "I completely understand the concern in the Black Belt area." He said ALEA has also discussed its plan with Alabama's chief election official, Secretary of State John Merrill, and state Attorney General Luther Strange's office. "No voter will be denied that opportunity regardless of where they reside in our state," Lathan said in an email. ..... he just conveniently left out the rest of the statement: "of course the voters in our black counties will have to drive an extra hundred or so miles to get their driver's licenses."

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