More Nationwide Criticism of Drivers License Office Closures

The Washington Post and an Alabama Congresswoman are the latest critics of the state’s decision to close several driver’s license offices in mostly rural, poor, black and Democrat-voting counties.

The Washington Post published an on-line story Monday afternoon. In an op-ed piece for AL.com and the Birmingham news, Rep. Terri Sewall, D-Birmingham said “50 years after the enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we continue to witness renewed assaults on the sacred right to vote.” Sewell has asked U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to look into the matter.

Since Alabama has a voter ID law, Sewall, the Post and others argue closing driver’s license offices will be a hindrance to voting.

Election officials, however, point out there are almost a dozen other acceptable forms of photo ID that can be used at the polls including those issued by the federal government, any state agency, Indian tribe, military, or private or public university or college.

Mobile Probate Judge Don Davis and Baldwin County Registrar Albert Lipscomb point out that a free state voter ID card is available at the Board of Registrars office in all 67 counties. None of those offices have closed.

But Sewall says her constituents have complained that the offices are open at inconvenient times or aren’t readily accessible.

She says, “State officials are disingenuous in suggesting that alternative options exist to get a photo ID.”

News-5 checked seven boards of registrars offices in southwest Alabama counties that will no longer have a driver’s license office. We found that those offices were open 42.5 hours a week in Washington, Lowdnes, and Crenshaw Counties, 40 hours a week in Conecuh, Choctaw, and Wilcox Counties and 36 hours in Butler County.

Additionally, Davis says there is also a failsafe in the law if someone were to show up at the polls with no photo ID of any kind.

“They can still vote the provisional ballot method,” said Davis. “Once their provisional ballot is validated in the week following the election, their vote is still going to count.”

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