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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Jennifer

They don't fly on airplanes. They don't have a bank account. Many poor people in the South of the USA live this way. But this shouldn't take away such a fundamental Constitutional right as voting.

Belle

Please intervene on behalf of all of people in Alabama who must be in despair, feel alone and cut off from the civilized world. How do we send them a message of hope? What can I do? I am an ACLU member and I am proud of every war the ACLU wages, little or big. How do I make a difference? I live in Florida, so other than voting in the election next year, I don't see what I can do. My heart weeps at the hatred that is so evident in this well thought-out and planned act of state-sanctioned racism, and I wonder if such fear and hatred will ever end.

Lady in LA

Get on it ACLU! Where's the lawsuit? The election is only a year away!!!

Ernest

No one should be allowed without ID. Several Towns in our area are closing drivers license. Not all minority. You are full of it.

ROBERT SEGANTI

This article is utter nonsense.Rubbish.

Debbie Willard

Time to notify Senators and Congressman of the shutdown problem. Color of skin? What is color? Do people have different color skin? Bible does not say there is a difference in color of skin!

Anonymous

The framers of the Constitution realized that not everyone is equipped to make good decisions about how to run a business, or government. It wasn't race that made that cut, it was land ownership. Let's roll it back to the original intent of our founders and keep ALL the uneducated poor folk from voting; then this welfare state could
Finally be fixed.

Anonymous

Yea

Billiard Bobs

The action is appalling, but has nothing whatsoever to do with race. It's purely political. If it were possible to target 43-year-old white people, then they would target those people. It IS possible to target black and poor people, who vote overwhelmingly Democrat. And so Republicans target them.

Years ago it was about race. Now it's 100% about politics.

Anonymous

as being in alabama I AM DISCRASED this hurts man I have never sean any racism in huntsville where I live this sucks

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