Alabama’s DMV Shutdown Has Everything to Do With Race

Don’t believe a word of it: It’s all about race.

Despite state officials’ quick denial that the closing of 31 Alabama DMVs has nothing to do with race, it is a fact that the closures – mostly in poor, majority black counties – disproportionately hurts Black voters. Period.

Fifty years ago in Selma, the civil rights movement won a hard fought battle to gain the right to register to vote. It took bloodshed in the streets, lives lost, a march to Montgomery, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act to make sure that African-American citizens had the right to vote. It was all about race.

Unfortunately, some things in Alabama never change. When it comes to making sure people can vote, the state of Alabama has on its hands an avoidable problem. Our legislature passed an unnecessary law that put excessive burdens on citizens by requiring them to get a photo ID in order to exercise their fundamental constitutional right to vote — despite the well-known fact that in-person voter fraud is rare.

Now Alabama closes 31 0f 67 Department of Motor Vehicle locations where most people get the most commonly used voter ID, the driver’s license. The majority of these counties in the state that are home to poor and Black people are on that list. The photo ID law already disenfranchises voters who are not able to obtain IDs. It has been reported that there are currently 250,000 registered voters who don’t have IDs so are now unable to vote in Alabama unless they either travel outside their county to get a driver’s license or take a burdensome trip to a separate location (which is even harder without a  driver’s license!) just for a voter ID. And that disproportionately hurts Black voters.

Before the United States Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013, Alabama would have had to submit this change for review by the U.S. Department of Justice to determine whether the closure was against the law. The fact that it was implemented without approval is just most recent example of why Congress needs to restore the Voting Rights Act.

Indeed, the very day that Alabama was no longer required to submit voting changes to the Department of Justice, Alabama announced its implementation of the photo ID requirement that had been delayed because of the requirements of the Voting Rights Act.  This is all about race and about what communities are most affected by the state of Alabama’s bad choices.

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Bob Klahn

How do you get a photo ID online?

Anonymous

This occurs in WHITE districts as well..perhaps your racist views are clouding your opinion. Racism is taught, one is not born with it.Racism comes in all colors.

Anonymous

So what. Places get closed in poor areas all the time, regardless of the color of the natives. And if they are able to vote why wouldn't they be incapable of getting an ID? It also sounds like you are making excuses as if they were not capable of going to another county or having to go to *gasp* two different places. It sounded ridiculous. All you are doing is making *poor* and blacks seem lazy and incapable of taking care of themselves. It is really rather insulting some of the stuff you guys say. Besides it isn't a race issue at all, you said it yourself although in a seemingly rushed way and it's funny how you say poor and black, why even bring the race into it? Poor is poor no matter what color you are. There is an attack on the 'poor' and nobody can see it with people like you making race issues out of things that have nothing to do with race. It isn't that they are black, it is that they are poor... and they just happen to be black. It's also funny how you use the term black instead of African American. You be careful with that or someone might call you a racist. Have a great day.

Anonymous

I'm white and I had to jump through hoops to get an ID too...order a birth certificate, wait for a utility bill to come in, go down to the SS office all the way in the city for a new SS card -- all this after my wallet and purse were stolen by yes, a black guy who mugged me in broad daylight...I didn't get to vote last time either. Will I get special treatment or is this just a result of my massive white privilege?

Bob Klahn

How does a birth certificate and utility bill prove who you are?

Did your birth certificate have your picture on it?

Anonymous

Ahhh did you really just post the "I got mugged by a Black guy in broad daylight" canard? Every single piece of your post shows your historical ignorance; I don't blame you, I blame your lack of education. You have absolutely no idea how poor people live, much less how poor Black people live, but if you did you would understand how each of those things (order a birth certificate, wait for a utility bill to come in, go into the city) are different for the poor. How? If you don't know yet--and you're old enough to use a computer--then it is absolutely nobody's job to teach you. Maybe the Black guy who mugged you (wink) was able to steal your identity and is passing himself off as an ignorant white lady whose idea of history is her last trip to the police station. Smh

Anonymous

This entire comment displays your massive white privelege

Anonymous

SO now the commuters do not believe a black guy can mug anyone or at least "winkie" doesn't seem to think so...This is devolving into racist rants by those who think they can say white privilege exist..it does not..it is the new catch phrase for those who are racist toward white people for their own agendas...and me saying this does not make me racist.

Sid Branch

It would be good if you printed the names of the counties affected. Also, whether anyone can facilitate action - carpools and such - and, the person in charge of Facilities in Alabama.
thanks

Joe Smolinski

Oh my god, say it isn't so!! They might have to (god forbid!) go to a neighboring county or taken a "burdensome" trip to another location. Mrs. Watson, you are pathetic and should be ashamed of yourself for spewing this vomit. But what else would I expect from the ACLU.

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