Recent years have seen numerous states work toward voter laws that disproportionately affect people of color, and Alabama is one of them.
Alabama Republicans have taken steps to protect their grip on power by making it harder for African Americans and Latinos to vote. They passed a law requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID, a measure that has been found to disproportionately disenfranchise African Americans and Latinos, who are more likely to lack such an ID and face impediments to getting one.
The law not only affects people at the voting booth but those who vote by mail as well:
The ID law also applied to absentee voting, which is used by many elderly black voters in rural counties, who now must mail in copies of their photo IDs with their ballots. (The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is challenging the law in federal court as intentionally discriminatory.)
Other ways Republicans have worked to thwart voting of non-white citizens:
- They reformed campaign finance laws to weaken the political organizations that mobilize African American voters.
- They closed 31 DMV offices across the state, disproportionately affecting rural majority-black counties. In every county in which African Americans made up more than 75 percent of registered voters, the local DMV was slated for closure.
- Alabama has closed about 200 voting precincts, creating longer lines and sowing confusion among voters.
- “Alabama’s definitely in the forefront of voter suppression efforts,” says John Zippert, the head of the New South Coalition, a black political organization that seeks to mobilize African American voters. The spate of new laws has “definitely hurt us,” he says.