By James Wright
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is protesting Alabama election rules that require voters without photo identification to either prove their identities or have election officials vouch for them.
The Alabama legislature has ratified a photo-identification and voucher law that will hinder about 500,000 registered voters, most of whom are people of color, because they lack a state-issued identification such as a driver’s license, identification card issued by the motor vehicle department, or passport.
“It is deeply problematic that Alabama’s secretary of state is trying to resurrect an unconstitutional and illegal relic of the Jim Crow South,” said Ryan P. Haygood, director of the defense fund’s political participation group. “Discriminatory voucher tests, which Congress explicitly banned along with literacy tests when it passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, has no place in modern-day Alabama.”
The fund sent a letter to Jean Brown, the chief legal adviser to the secretary of state, citing a Reuters poll stating that 37 percent of white people in Alabama have no acquaintances of a different race. Therefore, it is logical to assume that many white officials will not be able to vouch for large number of people of color who do not have photo identification, the letter states.
Deuel Ross, the Fried Frank Fellow at the defense fund, said that Alabama needs to act quickly before the June 3 primary.
“This voucher test is exactly the kind of discriminatory device that the Voting Rights Act was designed to stop and that Section 5 would have prevented were it not for the United States Supreme Court’s devastating decision in Shelby County vs. Holder,” Ross said.
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