After Passing Voter ID Law, Alabama Closes Driver’s License Offices In Democratic Counties

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In 2011, Alabama passed a voter ID law that required voters to provide a government issued state ID in order to vote in elections. Critics charged that the law would make it disproportionately difficult for poor voters and African-American voters in the state to vote. Republicans brushed off those criticisms by suggesting that the voter ID law was instead designed to eliminate in-person voter fraud, despite the fact that in-person voter fraud is almost non-existent.

However, Alabama has announced that it is now closing 31 driver’s license bureaus throughout the state, leaving 29 of the state’s counties without an office where voters can easily obtain a state-issued driver’s license. Not coincidentally, the impact of closures will be disproportionately felt by low income voters. Also unsurprisingly, offices targeted for closure are heavily concentrated in predominately African-American, Democratic leaning counties.

Driver’s license bureaus will be closed in heavily African-American and strongly Democratic, rural Black Belt counties. Barack Obama’s seven best counties in Alabama (Greene, Macon, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry and Wilcox) all have African-American populations above 68 percent. In each of those counties, Barack Obama garnered at least 74 percent of the vote in 2012. All seven of those mostly black, strongly Democratic, counties will lose their driver’s license bureau, making it difficult for voters to obtain a state-issued ID.

The bureau closures are not exclusively slated for Democratic counties or for black majority counties. Nevertheless, it is telling that Barack Obama’s best performing county is losing its license bureau. Macon County, where Obama defeated Romney by a crushing 87 to 12.8 percent margin, and where nearly 83 percent of residents are African-American, will lose its ability to conveniently provide voter IDs. Half a state away, similarly sized Marion County, where less than 4 percent of residents are black, and where Romney defeated Obama 80 to 18.5 percent, a license bureau will remain open, as a place where mostly GOP voters can easily obtain a state-issued ID.

Likewise, license bureaus will remain open in mostly rural, but overwhelmingly white Blount and Cullman counties. In both of those counties, whites outnumber blacks 50 to 1, and Romney defeated Obama by over 69 percentage points. Lo and behold, their license bureaus are staying open. Imagine that.

Alabama officials will cite budget cuts as justifying the closures, and they will surely argue that the selection of which offices they decided to close was not politically or racially motivated. Regardless of what rationale they use, however, it remains clear that closing driver’s license bureaus in predominately African-American counties will create undue hardship for black voters needing a valid ID to cast their ballot.

Removing licensing bureaus from these counties is a de facto poll tax that is being imposed most severely on African-American residents of Alabama’s Black Belt counties. Whether the closing of license bureaus is a deliberate or an accidental attempt to disenfranchise mostly black, mostly Democratic, voters is almost irrelevant. Regardless of motive, the effect is the same.

The license bureau closures confirm that Alabama’s voter ID law will effectively make it more difficult for African-American Democratic voters to cast their votes. A civil rights lawsuit should be filed immediately, and given the consequences of the office closures, such a lawsuit would stand a good chance of succeeding.



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26 Replies to “After Passing Voter ID Law, Alabama Closes Driver’s License Offices In Democratic Counties”

  1. As if anti-democracy gerrymandering wasn’t bad enough, now conservative Republicans are engineering new voter suppression schemes. This is contrary to the constitutional right of 1-person, 1 vote.

  2. Alabama repug racists keeping it classy. I bet these hicks just think they are so smart. Hopefully, the national authorities will be on top of this.

  3. …let’s LET certain Teatard States…{Texas, Mississippi, Alabama} be seceded…move all folks who wanna be REAL Americans out,also our Federal Assets…then move every GD Teahadist, NeoConArtist, and Teatard into the Neo-Confederacy {of Idiots}give the wall contract to Trump if when he finishes makin’ the wall, he’s on THAT side…

  4. REALLY! Closing Drivers License Offices to suppress the Democratic vote in Alabama?! Why not, the Roberts stare decisis Supreme Court says there is not a problem.

  5. Hmmm….. Still got racists in this country. Got news for you Republicans, I ain’t picking ya’ damn Cotton. Suck on that.

  6. Can another agency go door to door to fill out paper work and issue ID? Do it yesterday, get on the ground now!
    Dems need to get ahead of the reich wing lies, steal and cheat ways!

  7. The catch 22 to that you have to have a photo ID and no state will outsource someone with a camera to take your picture

  8. Democrats need to volunteer on the ground, and provide shuttle service to the closest DMV. Gotta start early, to outsmart the GOP desperation games. They know they can’t win honestly.

  9. What will the Republicans do next.
    .and still they lambs to the slaughter. .. Voters will still believe the Repug hype…meanwhile, they continue to surpress votes that are not in their favor..without consequences. ..How do they get away with that bullshit. ..Lock em up. .throw away the key…

  10. I would hope the Justice Dept. is on this and will file a suit immediately. Everyone knew this is where they were going with this, including the partisan 5 on The Supreme Court.

  11. The racist ‘system’ will then be ‘unable’ (broken ID machine?) to produce picture IDs in time to vote or IDs will be ‘lost in the mail’.

    The dems need to be all over this!!!

  12. A voter card is an ID card. It is issued by the State saying you have the right to vote. Next step is to make sure that all voter ID cards are issued properly. Closing the DMV’s so State issued IDs are harder to obtain is against the law. Most DMVs also can take info & have voter registration for US Citizens. Georgia & any State that makes getting a voter card harder or getting ID needs to have judgment placed against them for violating Citizens’ Civil Rights.

  13. Basically since voter registration can be done at local County DMVs – States should take the next step & have the photo ID put right on the Voter ID card. The voter ID card should be just like a credit card including magnetic strip.

    Day of voting – voter goes to Voting Judge table – Judge pulls voting card that matches Voter’s ID card. Gives the voter his/her card back and then go to voting booth – Judge & voter insert their cards into reader & record votes. At the end of voting – voter verifies vote(s) & the State card is dropped into lock box & voter’s card is returned to voter. Any questions about voting irregularities would show up when reading the voters’ cards against what what was recorded.

    Voter fraud if any is small & usually caused by officials not by voters.

  14. This is in direct violation of the Voting Rights Act and should be challenged in court before the elections. The Supremes did not remove the protections for minorities just the oversight of bad actor states by the federal government.

  15. Every state that needs one should have a photo ID project to get people what they need in order to vote. And then, if they can only vote in the county they are registered in, there should be tons of shuttle buses to make sure they can.

    Sad if all those white rural counties went Democrat…

    (There should be a lawsuit–where is the ACLU when you need them–but let’s not wait for that).

  16. DG, agreed. Get all who can to take people there. Donations for the fee if needed. Get young people involved in making change happen. Work, work, work, succeed, succeed, succeed.

  17. What people don’t understand is that in all these cities, where they are closing the DMV offices, citizens can get at Free PHOTO Id that meets the voter ID program in Alabama. Check it out Check the list of Closures against the Free Photo ID locations in Al. and stop trying to find hatred everywhere you look.
    Less then 5% of all state drivers
    licenses are issued from these 31 offices.

  18. Well being the good citizen that you are why don’t you post the links where they can get those free ID’s

  19. Eliner Tryon Elgin,
    That kind of eliminate the secret ballot, don’t you think? If the ballot is traceable to a certain voter all sorts of things may happen, not many of them good.

  20. YES, Frank…you can get a “free State ID” AT ONE OF THOSE DR. LIC. OFFICES they’re closing. And the reason that so few licenses were issues at those offices in the past? The poor and black must rely on public transportation, WHICH IS WHY THEY DO NOT have THE PHOTO ID REPUBLICANS ARE ASKING FOR. But if they are now going to be required to GET it, you have to give them a place TO GET IT. You can’t expect them to take off a day from work and travel to another county to obtain an ID. THAT IS CALLED A POLL TAX.

  21. the tea party people are terrorists . you as an american have a right to vote and when they deny you this they are terrorists. just remember one thing a dead tea partier can’t vote either.they are enemies the american isis they are as deadly as any foreign enemy. your raise to believe you go off to war & you kill terrorists & you burn their buildings. but for some reason they put a cross on a building and call it Gods house & they scheme and take everything from you and they plan to take your little children of the poor americans to sell into sweat shops & sex trade that’s why they need them to be born.when they want them to starve when they say no child has the right to medical care or food or water & you know that corporations are trying to take water rights so you can only get water through them. read about it. i think america is finished unless these son of a bitches tea partiers no longer walk the earth.and their buildings are in rubble. don’t believe me look it up.

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