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Alabama Demands Voter ID--Then Closes Driver's License Offices In Black Counties

AP Photo / Dave Martin

Archibald also noted that many of the counties where offices were closed also leaned Democrat.

"But maybe it's not racial at all, right? Maybe it's just political. And let's face it, it may not be either." he wrote. "But no matter the intent, the consequence is the same."

The voter ID law passed in 2011 -- which tightened previous ID requirements --includes driver's licenses on a very short list of government-issued photo IDs accepted in order to vote in the state. If a resident does not have the proper ID he or she must get two poll officials to vouch for his or her identity. Additionally, residents without photo ID can apply for a free state photo ID. The law was put into effect in 2014.

Before Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) signed the voter ID legislation, the ACLU-Alabama said it would have "a disproportionate negative impact on minority voters," noting that 62 percent of black Alabama residents depend on public transport, compared to 34 percent of whites.

Challenges to voter ID laws are being litigated across the country, with a Texas case expected to end up in the Supreme Court. In that case, the appeals court ruled that the Texas law violated the Voting Rights Act because it had a discriminatory effect on minority voters.

A Department of Justice official explained in 2014 that the agency challenged the Texas law, but not the Alabama law, because at the time only Texas' law required some residents to drive hundreds of miles to attain the proper ID.

In 2013, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, a case which originated in Alabama.

About The Author


Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.