The closure of dozens of driver’s license offices in Alabama—which critics say will make it harder for African Americans to vote in a state where photo IDs are required at the ballot box—has prompted a war of words between Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Washington Post reported.
Cruz bashed Clinton, who called the closures “a blast from the Jim Crow past” when they were initially announced, when asked about her comments by an Alabama news channel.
“It’s not surprising to see a Democrat like Hillary Clinton coming in and attacking states, particularly Southern states,” Cruz told WKRG earlier this week. “Frankly, it’s a bigotry from the Democrats. They look down on the southern states like we’re a bunch of hicks. Look, I’m from Texas and Hillary Clinton is not a big fan of my state either. We don’t need more politicians from Washington looking down on us like fly-over country. We’ve had seven years of a President who looks down on the American people. Hillary Clinton thinks we’re just a bunch ignorant rubes and we need to be governed by what she deems as moral and philosophical.”
The Clinton campaign, through spokeswoman Christina Reynolds, offered its response to the Washington Post Wednesday.
“Hillary Clinton is fighting to expand people’s voting rights, and that’s a case she’ll make anywhere, anytime,” Reynolds said. “Respecting voters means allowing them to vote, not systematically trying to weaken that right, as Senator Cruz and his party have done. Instead of offering insults, Senator Cruz should discuss why he’s consistently supported efforts that make it harder for Alabamians and many Americans to vote.”
Civil rights activists say the closures will make it even harder for African Americans to vote, as studies have shown that minorities were already less likely to have the photo IDs required to do so by state law. State officials say the closures were necessary due to Alabama’s tough budget circumstances and that state is doing enough to guarantee residents have access to the ballot box by offering a free ID alternative.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has launched a federal investigation into the closures and the NAACP filed a private legal challenge to Alabama’s voter ID law in light of the closures earlier this month.