Hillary Clinton alleged that Alabama has summoned “a blast from the Jim Crow past” by closing driver’s license offices around the state for budgetary reasons.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced in August that while they maintain 75 driver’s license districts and field offices across the state, “budget allocations do not cover costs and we operate with an $8.2 million deficit.”
Thirty-one satellite field offices that were open part-time closed on Thursday. On Jan. 1, all district offices across the state are scheduled to close leaving a dozen offices open statewide.
Alabama passed a voter ID law in 2011 that went into effect last year and requires government-issued identification such as a driver’s licenses or a free state photo ID card, or two poll officials to vouch for the identity of the voter.
Columnist John Archibald of AL.com charged that “every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed,” which “might as well just send an invitation to the Justice Department.”
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, though, said the 31 field offices owned by counties, not the state, that were de-staffed accounted for less than five percent of state driver’s license transactions, a total of fewer than 2,000 transactions in 2014.
Clinton issued a statement today to “strongly oppose” the office closures, “especially in counties that have a significant majority of African Americans.”
“Just a few years ago, Alabama passed a law requiring citizens to have a photo ID to vote. Now they’re shutting down places where people get those photo IDs. This is only going to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a blast from the Jim Crow past,” she said.
“We’re better than this. We should be encouraging more Americans to vote, not making voting harder.”
Clinton renewed her push for automatic voter registration of all Americans when they turn 18, “and a new national standard of at least 20 days of early in-person voting in every state.”
“African Americans fought for the right to vote in the face of unthinkable hatred. They stood up and were beaten down, marched and were turned back. Some were even killed. But in the end, the forces of justice overcame,” she said. “Alabama should do the right thing. It should reverse this decision. And it should start protecting the franchise for every single voter, no matter the color of their skin.”