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Voting: Alabama Rep. Sewell Demands AG Lynch Investigate DMV Closures in Black Communities

Voting: Alabama Rep. Sewell Demands AG Lynch Investigate DMV Closures in Black Communities

A Blast From the Jim Crow Past.  Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell released a letter that she has sent to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.  In her letter to the Attorney General, Rep. Sewell is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate the closing of 31 driver’s license offices in Alabama.  Eight of 14 counties in Sewell’s district would be without a DMV.   

I know that no one would ever guess this could happen in the state of Alabama, but the decision disproportionately impacts Black residents.  Alabama is known for its special focused attention on keeping Blacks from voting with poll taxes, grandfather clauses and other race based voter obstruction games.   Alabama is one of the states that use to ask Black voters questions like “how voting1many bubbles are in a bar of soap” and “how many green jelly beans are in a jar” to register.  

Under Alabama’s new and tougher voter ID law, voters must have a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to vote. Every Alabama county that has over 75 percent Black registered voters will lose its DMV office. It doesn’t get more deliberate than that yet you can bet Republicans in Alabama who are scared to lose power are sure to argue just that.

Currently the stated reasoning behind the DMV closures is “budget constraints” yet you’d think white areas of the state would be hit too too if that was true.  Alabama is 26 percent Black but the political representation in the state does not reflect the population numbers.   The state of Alabama has the 6th largest Black population in the U.S.

Presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton slammed the DMV closings in Alabama as  “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”

Sewell’s press release to Attorney General Lynch is at bottom:

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“My office sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a full, and thorough investigation into the decision to close 31 driver’s license offices across Alabama. This ill-conceived decision left 8 out of the 14 counties in my district – which is the only majority minority district in the state – without a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue an Alabama driver’s license.

“The real issue here is about access. Closing these license offices will severely limit access to the most popular form of photo identification used in voting – a state issued driver’s license.

“It is disappointing, and unconscionable that Alabama would heighten its requirements to vote without also increasing the available options to meet these requirements. Closing 31 driver’s license offices across the state only heightens the disparities in voting between low-income and higher-income communities, and would disproportionately impact the residents of the 7thCongressional District.  These closures will potentially disenfranchise Alabama’s poor, elderly, disabled and black communities. To view the letter, please click here: https://sewell.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-sewell-releases-letter-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-requesting

“My constituents are the least able, and least likely to have access to transportation – either public or private – and thus travel across county lines for a driver’s license.

“I am particularly appalled by this decision in light of the 50th Anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches and the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. Our nation should be moving forward in terms of expanding access to the vote. It’s utterly disappointing that my home state – the very state that launched the movement towards equality – is the same state that has become fertile ground for its demise.

“The renewed assault on our sacred, constitutionally protected to vote must be stopped. I look forward to working with Attorney General Lynch to stop this latest assault on our voting rights.”