11th Circuit Panel Oks Alabama Voter Id Law


An Alabama law requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race and doesn’t violate the Voting Rights Act, a split Eleventh Circuit said Tuesday.

The state has legitimate interests in combating voter fraud, increasing confidence in elections, and modernizing the voting process, and those interests survive strict scrutiny, Judge Elizabeth L. Branch said for the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People presented racist statements made over the years by various state legislators in support of its argument that the law was passed with the intent to discriminate against Black and minority voters.

But those statements didn’t come from any of the bill’s sponsors, and some of the quoted legislators weren’t members of the Alabama Legislature when the law was debated and passed, the court said.

The court acknowledged the state has a “racist history” and took the time to clearly state that it “does not condone, under any circumstances, racist statements.”

“But It cannot be that Alabama’s history bans its legislature from ever enacting otherwise constitutional laws about voting,” the court said.

The law allows voters to use student and government IDs to identify themselves at the polling place, according to the court’s opinion. Free photo IDs are available from every registrar’s office in the state, and mobile units will even make house calls if requested… (Read more)

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