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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/4/15

Alabama Toughens Rules for Voting While Black

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Reprinted from Smirking Chimp


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If you live in Alabama and need to register to vote before the 2016 presidential election, it just got a little harder, especially if you live in any of the counties where Black Americans make up more than 75 percent of the registered voting population.

Due to "budget constraints" -- 31 DMV offices are losing their driver's licenses examiners.

As John Archibald wrote in a column at AL.com, of the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters, eight will lose their driver's license bureaus.

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Of the 10 that voted in the highest percentages for Barack Obama, eight of them had their offices closed.

And all five of the counties that voted most solidly democratic lost their driver license offices.

Which means that people within those majority-African American counties will need to travel to another county in order to get a driver's license, and that's a big problem for people who still need to register to vote.

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Because the same Alabama Legislature that set up this voter suppression tactic also passed a bill in 2011 that requires all voters to have a photo ID.

This is almost certainly not a coincidence, it looks more like a concerted effort to suppress Black votes.

Alabama's Republican-controlled legislature is making it harder and harder for minorities and low-income people to get the type of photo ID that they will need in order to vote in the next elections.

But even if this isn't a targeted effort to suppress minority and low-income votes in the state, the end effect is that it fundamentally undermines our democracy by making it more difficult to register to vote in the counties that just lost their driver's license bureaus.

This bald-faced attempt to block minorities from voting should face a Justice Department investigation.

The simple fact is, from 1965 until 2013, this move would have triggered a federal review under Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.

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Section 4 required states with a history of discrimination, like Alabama, to have any consequential changes in voting laws reviewed by the federal government.

But that part of the Voting Rights Act was struck down by the Supreme Court two years ago with the Shelby County v. Holder ruling, in which Chief Justice John Roberts argued that Section 4 was unnecessary because "things have changed dramatically" in the South since 1965.

With that pesky Voting Rights Act out of the way, for example, North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican controlled North Carolina legislature passed sweeping changes to their voter registration laws.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. www.thomhartmann.com His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War (more...)
 
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