Common Cause Urges Repeal of Alabama Voter Photo ID Law

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Scott Swenson, 202 736-5713

Dale Eisman, 202 736-5788

Common Cause Urges Repeal of Alabama Voter Photo ID Law

Coupled with License Office Closures, ID Requirement Blocks Thousands of Alabamians from Ballot Box

WASHINGTON - Common Cause called on Alabama’s governor Wednesday to convene a special legislative session to a repeal the state’s strict voter identification law and take other steps to remove obstacles to voting for a quarter million or more Alabamians.

“The Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965 largely in response to Alabama’s effort to keep African-Americans away from the ballot box,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport. “The state’s voter ID law is an unfortunate throwback to that era.”

In a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley, Rapoport urged the state’s chief executive to convene a special session of the state legislature to roll back the voter ID requirement. The state law, implemented last year, “is among the strictest in the country, invalidating formerly permissible forms of identification such as utility bills, Social Security cards, and birth certificates,” the letter asserts.

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The letter adds that “at a bare minimum,” Alabama should amend the ID law “to allow voters to provide an alternative form of identification such as an affidavit with a signature match.” Such legally binding agreements, made under the penalty of perjury, already are in place in some other states with voter identification laws. 

 “Alabama – and every other state – needs laws and policies that remove obstacles to voting,” Rapoport said. “Alabama has not only erected a new obstacle in the form of the voter ID law, it moved last month to make obtaining the required ID’s more difficult by closing 31 motor vehicle offices that issued them.

“We’re encouraged that Gov. Bentley has decided to partially re-open the offices, but the one-day-per-month schedule he announced last week still leaves residents with too few chances to get IDs,” Rapoport said.  “A better solution, and one with no cost to the state, would be repeal of the unneeded and overly strict voter ID law.”

The Alabama law was passed despite a lack of evidence that the state has a problem with people impersonating voters to cast fraudulent votes, Rapoport noted. And it is having a devastating impact; the Center for American Progress estimates that 250,000 to 500,000 voters were affected by the ID requirement in the 2014 election.

The 31 closed offices serve mostly rural areas, including every Alabama county in which African-Americans make up more than 75 percent of registered voters.

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Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.

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