Posted on October 9, 2015
Stop the attack on voting rights in Alabama
Last week Alabama announced a plan to shut down 31 county driver’s license offices across the state, leaving 28 counties without a single location where residents can obtain a driver’s license. As John Archibald observed at the Birmingham News, “Every single county in which Blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed.”
This decision is a clear attempt to suppress African-American votes. First, Alabama passed a voter ID bill in 2011, which requires a government-issued photo ID to vote. Now the state is making it virtually impossible for some people to get those IDs.
Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday urging her to launch a formal investigation, but the Justice Department hasn’t yet stepped in. We can’t allow this blatant attack on voting rights to stand.
Alabama has played a central role in the history of voting rights in the United States. It is where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis marched on Bloody Sunday, laying the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act. And it was the source of the devastating Shelby County Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013.
The latest move by state officials to shut down country driver’s license offices is a direct continuation of Alabama’s shameful history of voter suppression.
As The Nation’s Ari Berman pointed point, “This is the very type of voting change–one that disproportionately burdens African-American voters–that would have been challenged under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act” had the Roberts Supreme Court not gutted it in 2013.
According to a 2014 report (PDF) by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, approximately 250,000 registered voters in Alabama are currently unable to vote because they don’t have a government-issued photo ID. The closure of county driver’s license offices will only make that problem worse.
I hope you’ll join us in fighting back and urging the Department of Justice to intervene.