Alabama appears to be celebrating its release from the Voting Rights Act by making it harder for black people to vote. The state passed a voter ID law in 2011 despite (or because of) predictions that it would have a disproportionate effect on African-American voters, and now it's closing 31 county driver's license offices
, making it harder for people in those counties to get driver's licenses ... which also enable them to vote. The closures don't exactly look random
, columnist John Archibald writes:
Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That's Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed. [...]
Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one. [...]
Look at the 15 counties that voted for President Barack Obama in the last presidential election. The state just decided to close driver license offices in 53 percent of them.
The 31 closures that have been announced represent an improvement over threats that 45 offices would be closed
, leaving just four open statewide. It almost makes you wonder if those earlier threats were to make these closures seem acceptable. In any case, state officials say it won't be a problem
and that registrars offices where people can get non-driving photo IDs that allow them to vote will remain open.