National criticism of Alabama for shutting many of its driver’s license offices while requiring photo identification to vote is growing, and is likely misguided.
Friday, Hillary Clinton joined a growing nationwide chorus criticizing Alabama for closing driver’s license offices in the state’s poorest, blackest, and most Democratic counties.
In a statement Clinton called it quote “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
She later tweeted, “Yet another reason we need to restore key protections of the Voting Rights Act. We’re better than this”
After this week’s announced cutbacks there are now 29 counties in Alabama where people cannot get a driver’s license. That includes all eight counties where the population is 75-percent black or higher and the five counties that vote most heavily Democratic.
National criticism has flooded in since Alabama has a voter ID law. Critics claim if it is harder for the poor and minorities to get a driver’s license, then it is harder for them to vote.
Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis disagrees.
“In Alabama there are many different acceptable forms of photo ID,” said Davis.\
He says 90-percent of voters in Mobile County use a driver’s license but there are many other options.
“IDs issued by either the federal government or some agency of department of federal government, indian tribes, a public university or college, other government entities,” Davis said.
For those with none of the above, Alabama also issues a state voter ID card, and not through its driver’s license offices.
“The free voter ID card is actually issued through our boards of registrars,” said Albert Lipscomb who serves on the Baldwin County Board of Registrars. “And every county has a board of registrars.”
Lipscomb says, therefore, the closing of driver’s license offices should have no bearing on obtaining proper voter identification.
Prior to the June, 2014 primary, the Baldwin County Board of Registrars issued just six Voter ID cards. Mobile County issued about 100.