"This is where people died. For that right. Our right."
October 7, 2015 8:01 AM   Subscribe

Following the 2014 implementation of a strict photo voter ID law and a 54% increase in the cost of a driver license earlier this year, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency cited budget cuts as the instigating factor for the recent closure of 31 driver license bureaus across the state. As of last week, every county in Alabama where black citizens currently comprise more than 75% of registered voters has had its driver license office closed.

Twenty-eight Alabama counties no longer have an office that issues driver licenses at all, including eight of the ten counties with the highest non-white populations and 14 of the 20 poorest counties in the state.

In response to ALEA's announcement, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund penned a letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, and ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier expressing grave concerns about the closures and flagging them as a "likely violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution."

Days later, Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell responded with a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, requesting a formal investigation of the bureau closures by the U.S. Department of Justice. Rep. Sewell co-sponsored the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015 in June.

Alabama ranked dead last in the Center for America Progress Action Fund's July 2015 investigation of the health of state democracies. More discussion of Alabama voter rights can be found at #RestoreTheVOTE.

Relevant previously.
posted by divined by radio (128 comments total) 90 users marked this as a favorite
 
The best possible spin on this is just that Alabama doesn't want poor people to vote, rather than not wanting black people to vote. And sadly, I bet that distinction will be enough for a lot of people to just shrug it off.
posted by Etrigan at 8:04 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh my god. Oh my god. What the hell are they doing there?!? Is there anything that someone who doesn't live in Alabama can do to help? I'm looking through the Twitter hashtag and the links but I think that (understandably) they're mostly trying to raise the alarm and get people talking about it right now.

This cannot be constitutional.
posted by sciatrix at 8:06 AM on October 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


This cannot be constitutional.

Racism trumps constitutionality, as even a cursory glance at American history will tell you.
posted by tommasz at 8:08 AM on October 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


Holy fucking shit. That is some truly evil shit and I fervently hope the feds get involved, immediately.
posted by jayder at 8:09 AM on October 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


More importantly, just getting away with it for a few election cycles is all they need. If this gets rolled back after a decade long legal battle, they've already won.
posted by fatbird at 8:10 AM on October 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Welcome to voter disenfranchisement in a post-gutting-of-the-Voting Rights Act America.
posted by prepmonkey at 8:11 AM on October 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


That just takes my breath away. That is just evil. Just viciously EVIL.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 8:11 AM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Clearly, the solution is to disenfranchise all Alabama voters and send in UN Peacekeeprs while some sane external body reorganizes a failed state.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:11 AM on October 7, 2015 [38 favorites]


I kept seeing the headlines for this story on Twitter and Facebook at times when I was unable to click them, and though shit like this shouldn't surprise me, I just kept thinking that I was misreading it or people were looking at something through the worst possible lens. Turns out the worst possible lens is the most accurate one.

This is some serious "needs a Freedom Summer" response shit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:13 AM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Nothing to see here, racism is solved in America, so we don't need the Voting Rights Act anymore. John Roberts was paid very, very well to say so.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:14 AM on October 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


Is there anything that someone who doesn't live in Alabama can do to help?

Go back in time and stop the Supreme Court from ruling that racism no longer exists?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I fervently hope the feds get involved, immediately.

Well, they did. And the Supreme Court ended all of that.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Seriously MCMikeNamara. I'm ready to get on a bus right now - despite the fact that Jews have not had a super time of coming into Alabama to register voters.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:15 AM on October 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


> More importantly, just getting away with it for a few election cycles is all they need. If this gets rolled back after a decade long legal battle, they've already won.

Even one would probably be enough to stack the SC for another generation.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wow, I know that comments on news articles are usually a "There Be Monsters" situation, but... those comments are insanely racist. Is it too late to reoccupy the South and reinstitute Reconstruction?
posted by Automocar at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Alabama's probably a testing ground. If they get away with it the scheme will likely get rolled into multiple states, especially ones in the South.
posted by fuse theorem at 8:18 AM on October 7, 2015 [40 favorites]


Sean McElwee: The true cost of Voter ID: Everything you need to know about the monumental cost of voter suppression
In a study released last year, political scientist Jon Rogowski and Sophie Schuit of the Brennan Center for Justice find that members of Congress representing districts covered by the preclearance provision (which was struck down by the Roberts court when it gutted the Voting Rights Act) were more supportive of civil rights legislation. The chart below (on the left) shows that as the black population increased, a legislator in a district protected by the Voting Rights Act became more liberal on civil rights, while one in a non-covered district became more conservative. The chart on the right shows that in more competitive districts, representatives covered by the VRA were more progressive on civil rights than in non-covered districts. As the authors write, “By guaranteeing the voting rights of Black constituents, Section 5 created the incentives for elected officials to better represent Black interests.”

Other research on the impact of voting in the South comes to similar conclusions. For instance, economist Suresh Naidu finds that poll taxes and literacy tests lead to a decline in the teacher-child ratio at black schools of 10 to 23 percent (no effect on white schools). Economists Elizabeth Cascio and Ebonya Washington find that the boost in black turnout following the Voting Rights Act boosted state transfers to localities with higher black populations. Economist Ferran Elias finds that the court orders shifting cities from at-large elections to single districts (thereby guaranteeing black representation on the city council) boosted public good expenditures and tax collection, as well as the share of black public workers. He also finds that it boosted the value of houses owned by black citizens. This research all suggests that voter protections, many of them under assault by the court, have been integral to equitable representation.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


THIS IS WHY WE STILL NEED THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT, Justice Roberts . . .
posted by BlueJae at 8:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


in other news: Oddly Depoliticized First Definitions of Unreconstructed
posted by ethansr at 8:20 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's so blatant, it takes my breath away. Shame on every legislator that voted for this and shame on every voter that cast their vote for them.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:20 AM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Clearly, the solution is to disenfranchise all Alabama voters and send in UN Peacekeeprs while some sane external body reorganizes a failed state.

I understand getting frustrated. But I would only remind you even when "landslide" elections happen putting awful people in power in a place like Alabama, 30% of the people voted the opposite way. So the "we should just do something extreme reflecting the monolithic awfulness of [place]" riffing is profoundly disrespectful to the many good people there. Because there most assuredly are good people in Alabama. They're just outnumbered and they need help.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


Not that you can separate the issue, but completely even if this had nothing to do with voter IDs, it is also completely batshit and, if not absolutely racist, definitely completely crushing to the poor population, that 28 Alabama counties no longer have an office that issues driver's licenses at all.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2015 [36 favorites]


Congratulations, John Roberts. Your long career of opposing the Voting Rights Act has borne rotten fruit.
posted by Gelatin at 8:23 AM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I went and looked for Ohio in that ranking, and found that we made 33 despite two Fs for a B- in "representation in state government". That is the category that includes "district distortion". Which it turns out Ohio ranks very well on? And hahahahaha. Which seems to suggest that if anything, the measures being used by them are pretty optimistic. Alabama scoring that poorly across the board is really remarkable in the worst possible way.
posted by Sequence at 8:24 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Important to note: the closure of driver's license bureaus in various counties doesn't mean you can't get a vote ID card there anymore. Here's the web page explaining how you get one. There's no mention of driver's license bureaus. You get the application at the county registrar's office (every county has one of those) or from one of the mobile registration units they have going around, or download it. You fill it out and bring it back with the required documentation. You have to go there to register to vote, as well, so you can do both at the same time. Here's the registration form, itself. (PDF) It mentions 3 locations to turn it in with documentation: County registrar's office, mobile locations, or the Secretary of State's office in Montgomery. No mention of driver's license bureaus. And the site for the driver's license bureaus doesn't list voter ID as an available service.
posted by beagle at 8:24 AM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I wasn't surprised- it was obvious that this was going to be the next step after the Voter ID laws.

In fact during the debates over this people werer warning that this is what would happen, and they were dismissed as fear mongers. So I honestly cannot believe that anyone is surprised that this is what happened. This was the whole intent of voter ID.
posted by happyroach at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


the closure of driver's license bureaus in various counties doesn't mean you can't get a vote ID card there anymore

From the website:

To receive a free Alabama Photo Voter ID card, a voter must show:

A photo ID document or a non-photo identity document can be used if it contains your full legal name and date of birth;
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:26 AM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


WRT the closure of driver's license bureaus:

Fortunately the state's robust system of mass transit for rural areas will help get those citizens to the places where they can obtain and renew their driver's license and other ID… Oh, right.

Sometimes my country and my fellow citizens make me sad and tired.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Also, to receive the Photo Voter ID card, you also already must be registered to vote.

That's some serious hoop jumping bullshit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:27 AM on October 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Congratulations, John Roberts. Your long career of opposing the Voting Rights Act has borne rotten fruit.

We would also have accepted "strange fruit."
posted by Naberius at 8:28 AM on October 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


Okay you can register to vote at the same time and then "apply for a free Alabama photo voter ID card if there is no issue with your registration." (italics mine) which sounds pretty ominous given the history.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


(I am not throwing any stones, though: at that healthofstatedemocracies.org site, my own state, Rhode Island, gets a well-deserved raking over the coals: a D, an F, and a B.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:30 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is so blatant and so awful. It's a chilling reminder that you can't just get some justice and stop. There are always forces that want to push us backwards. The fight for justice has to be ongoing.
posted by aka burlap at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


We would also have accepted "strange fruit."

Gotta save something for the defense of straight-up murdering minorities rather than disenfranchising them.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:31 AM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also thank you for this post, divined by radio. Really informative roundup of links.
posted by aka burlap at 8:32 AM on October 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


In a strange way, though, I'm partially encouraged by actions like these. For all its bluster that it represents the overwhelming majority of "real Americans" -- the implication being white, Christian and suburban/rural -- the relentless drive of the Republican Party to disenfranchise voters, gerrymander districts and generally rig the game is a tacit -- and nearly a blatant -- admission that it and the policies it espouses simply do not enjoy majority support.

They're losers, and they know it, which is part of the reason for what national treasure Charles Pierce refers to as the "prion disease" of embracing modern movement conservatism. Ronald Reagan made Republicans feel like winners, and they can't stand feeling otherwise, and they will lie, cheat, steal and kill in order to keep that feeling at bay.
posted by Gelatin at 8:37 AM on October 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


The problem, of course, is that when they control both chambers of Congress and have a shot and the Presidency they don't just "feel" that way.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:38 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Racism trumps constitutionality, as even a cursory glance at American history will tell you.

Not always, as American history _does_ demonstrate. People just need to figure out _what_ to do, and then a lot of them will absolutely do it. I just hope we come up with something to do soon.
posted by amtho at 8:41 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder is probably not crucial in deciding whether this is constitutional. Blatantly preventing black/poor people from getting IDs which they need to vote already violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which is still in force. Shelby County v. Holder ruled that Section 5 (which might have required federal preapproval before the bureaus could be closed in the first place) was unenforceable because Section 4 (which limited this requirement to certain areas, as decided in 1964) was unconstitutional. It might not even have done that—closing the bureaus is arguably a matter for the DMV, which "incidentally" affects voting. (Convenient, that.)
posted by Rangi at 8:42 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The author of the al.com piece says, "But motives are sometimes less important than consequences."

I'll go them one further and say consequences are almost always, with rare exceptions, more important than motives. If you don't consider what the consequences of your actions will be, your motives aren't worth a pinch of bug dust. If you expect the victims of your ill-considered actions to do all the labor of comforting themselves with guessing your motives, then you're just adding insult to injury.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 AM on October 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


The Supreme Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder is probably not crucial in deciding whether this is constitutional.

No, but by removing the preclearance requirement it allows the closure to happen before any challenge can be brought, and to remain in effect until a court tells the racist fucks that they're fucking racist. By which point it will have already affected multiple rounds of local, state and federal elections.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:44 AM on October 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is deeply cynical and evil. We should be outraged, and we should be publicly shaming the Republican Party and the Right for their opposition to free and fair voting. It's deeply undemocratic and un-American. I try not to hate Republicans for the most part, as it's divisive and counter-productive, but the decent people left there need to rise up and speak up.
posted by theora55 at 8:46 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


This cannot be constitutional.

If we take McCleskey v. Kemp as a guide the precedent is that the system isn't racist unless you have all of the officials of the system shouting racial epithets on national TV.

Racism in aggregate without explicitness is just not racism to the Supreme Court.
posted by Talez at 8:46 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Acceptable IDs under Alabama's law are driver's license; non-driver state ID; photo voter ID; ID issued by another state; federal government ID; passport; state, county or municipal government employee ID; student or employee ID from a public or private college or trade school in Alabama; and ID issued by a state college in another state.
There is a simple solution here:
Another state sets up a public university that teaches no courses, charges no tuition, and lets you request a photo ID for free online, or through the mail.

Failing that, set up a program where anybody can request a free photo ID from any post office, and challenge the law on the grounds that Alabama is arbitrarily excluding valid forms of identification.

Honestly, I'm willing to put up with the privacy implications of federally-issued ID cards if it stops bullshit like this.
posted by schmod at 8:47 AM on October 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Mod note: Couple comments removed. "Much ado about nothing" and "this probably isn't racist because" are both pretty tonedeaf and ahistorical approaches to a deep and complicated subject and aren't going to go well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2015 [37 favorites]


The problem, of course, is that when they control both chambers of Congress and have a shot and the Presidency they don't just "feel" that way.

They have a shot at the Presidency inasmuch as our system is a contest between two political parties, and the Republicans are one of them. I'll grant that demographically speaking, 2016 is the best shot the Republicans will have in a long, long time, unless they, ha ha, reach out to minority voters. But I will predict right now that a Democrat wins the White House in 2016, which means they really are losers. For all the umpty-zillion votes in the House to abolish Obamacare, not much of the Republican agenda got enacted.

I admit the Congressional map is stacked in the Republicans' favor, but if -- a big if, admittedly -- the Democrats can avoid being as feckless in 2020 as they were in 2010 and recapture a few statehouses, redistricting and reapportionment should help swing the pendulum a bit back their way. And, of course, it's likely the next President will pick at least one and possibly more Supreme Court nominees. Replacing Ginsberg with another centrist is a wash, but if one of the ultraconservative justices creates a vacancy between 2016 and 2020, the split would again favor Democrats.

Actions like these from the Republicans is a sign that deep down, their leadership knows they can't appeal to a majority of Americans, period.
posted by Gelatin at 8:48 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Paging the Roberts court, paging the Roberts court...

This is not an accident. Why are there budget cuts? Because no new taxes is a pat and shallow modern political philosophy that for the forces of segregation provides an armamentarium for oppression. It can be used to cut off money to the disadvantaged, to debilitate regulatory agencies, to deny services, reduce public pensions, and, as is demonstrated here, to suppress the vote of populations hostile to the agenda. And most beautiful of all? As it decreases economic activity, it can be used to rationalize more "stimulative" tax cuts. A perfect feedback loop.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:50 AM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


People in Alabama can't have both a non-driving Voter ID and a valid driver's license, so yes, closing DMVs makes it harder for people in those communities to get an official identification for voting, unless you want to tell people that they should give up their driver's license because they live in an underserved community.
posted by muddgirl at 8:51 AM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


So independant of the horrid voter repurcussions, how the fuck are you supposed to get a driver's license now? Are poor whites really going to be so pleased that their government screwed over black people again that they'll put up with not being able to DRIVE THEIR CARS LEGALLY?

I... huh.
posted by selfnoise at 8:52 AM on October 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Also, you know, sometimes people need driver's licenses???
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


selfnoise, jinx.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Failing that, set up a program where anybody can request a free photo ID from any post office

I like this idea; I also like a proposal I heard elsewhere of having post offices provide simple banking services, which would undercut predatory payday loan businesses.

Honestly, I'm willing to put up with the privacy implications of federally-issued ID cards

I am of the opinion that that horse is already out of the barn. One's Social Security Number is already an effective national ID number, and I agree that having a Federal counterweight to statehouse shenanigans like these -- along with an ironclad policy that the Federal ID trumps any state disenfranchisement voter ID laws, could help restore a small-d democratic balance.
posted by Gelatin at 8:53 AM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


This is pissing me off past the point of being entirely in control of what I might say. I greatly appreciate the post, but will have to go get a refreshing beverage and stroll around in the sunshine before I join back in.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Plus let me tell you about the state of public transit in the South, even in a lot of big ish cities. It isn't something you want to use if you can POSSIBLY afford any other transit.
posted by sciatrix at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not like the Feds can't find me when they want to. I would be fine with a national ID that was good for driving, voting, whatever.
posted by emjaybee at 8:55 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of the Voting Rights Act: the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014 has been proposed as a constitutional replacement to Section 4 of the VRA. It looks like a real improvement: instead of "hard-coding" a reference to "November 1, 1964," it will enact "rolling coverage" which applies to any state with a recent history (last 15 years) of voting discrimination. This should simultaneously catch more incidents of actual discrimination, while not applying to states that have since cleaned up their act, which I believe is the reason why Section 4 was unconstitutional in the first place.

Edit: oh, it's already been superseded by the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, which was linked in the main post.
posted by Rangi at 8:57 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


For those of you who have 'all anyone needs to register to vote is a dumb old birth certificate, this is obviously nbd' people in your lives/on your internets, please feel free to forward on some of these helpful links.

"Birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25. Marriage licenses, required for married women whose birth certificates include a maiden name, can cost between $8 and $20. By comparison, the notorious poll tax — outlawed during the civil rights era — cost $10.64 in current dollars."

"People over 65 also are more likely to lack birth certificates because they were born before recording births was standard procedure... While an ID itself may be free, voters — especially women — often must purchase copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, divorce decrees and other documents to show name changes."

"Some people have never been issued a birth certificate. A lot of elderly Black folks, for example, were birthed by midwives at home. They don't have birth certificates. A lot of rural folks—Black, white, Latino, whatever—were born on farms. They don't have birth certificates either."

"Wiola Lee, 59, was born in rural Georgia and moved to Philadelphia in her early youth to live with her grandmother... With the new voter ID laws, Ms. Lee is trying to access her birth certificate which she will need in order to obtain a photo ID, but the state of Georgia has no record of her birth."

"For the last six decades, Barbara Decoursey, 79, has never missed voting in an election, especially a presidential election... But this year, Decoursey got a scare that even she, an elections official, might not be able to perform her cherished ritual this time around. A new state voting law has nearly derailed her ability to vote by requiring credentials like a birth certificate that she doesn't have."
posted by divined by radio at 9:00 AM on October 7, 2015 [73 favorites]


Also, to receive the Photo Voter ID card, you also already must be registered to vote.

That's some serious hoop jumping bullshit.


Thatsa catcha twenny too-a.

I greatly appreciate the post, but will have to go get a refreshing beverage and stroll around in the sunshine before I join back in.

I hope that's a refreshing adult beverage...
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:03 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


For those of you who have 'all anyone needs to register to vote is a dumb old birth certificate, this is obviously nbd' people in your lives/on your internets, please feel free to forward on some of these helpful links.

It's also worth repeating that in-person voter fraud, the problem the Supreme Court allowed itself to believe these laws are intend to fix, essentially does not exist.
posted by Gelatin at 9:04 AM on October 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


Are poor whites really going to be so pleased that their government screwed over black people again that they'll put up with not being able to DRIVE THEIR CARS LEGALLY?

I was really, really poor, once upon a time. Driving illegally (not having the proper papers in wallet/glove compartment) was pretty much the defacto state. What's that old phrase? "It's not illegal to be poor, but it might as well be."

Not saying you're wrong, just saying that poor people might worry about laws, but they can't afford them, so, they do what they have to do. And then they get arrested. Or can't vote. Which is why this kind of cheating works.
posted by valkane at 9:04 AM on October 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


And then they get arrested. Or can't vote.

Or both, thanks to additional disenfranchisement for criminals, because of how easy it is for a moving violation to turn into much worse charges for the poor and PoC.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:09 AM on October 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


"It's not illegal to be poor, but it might as well be."

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread."

--Anatole France
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:14 AM on October 7, 2015 [37 favorites]


I was in Quebec during the time that the big succession initiative was defeated. My friend's were all yes on that, and I kept saying, "It's a couple of percent that you need! Don't you guys know how to win? Look how we do it, for crissakes."

Something about morals, I guess.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


because of how easy it is for a moving violation to turn into much worse charges for the poor and PoC.

Exactly. Give them a big fine that they can't pay, lock them up for not paying it, add a bunch of nonpayment fines and fees, drag it out for months at a time, etc etc. Now you're broke, you've lost your job, you have a criminal record so you're not getting another one, and any hope you have of making change in your community is lost because you can't vote out the people who did this to you.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:21 AM on October 7, 2015 [38 favorites]


Donating to the Southern Poverty Law Center may be one way to help fight this kind of discrimination. You can also support the ACLU with a donation. If you do donate they will send you a nice pocket sized copy of the Constitution. You can use that copy to show people what the Constitution actually says in Article 1 Section 8 with regard to purpose and organization of the "Well armed Militia"
posted by X4ster at 9:29 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Give them a big fine that they can't pay, lock them up for not paying it, add a bunch of nonpayment fines and fees

All in the name of "personal responsibility," of course.
posted by Gelatin at 9:33 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, what about a Freedom Summer type-event? I mean, if they're going to fuck with the voting rights of citizens, can't we, as citizens rent a bunch of vans and buses and get as many people as humanly possible to the DMVs that are open? Am I being terribly naive?
posted by Sophie1 at 9:36 AM on October 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm down.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:38 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is making me shaky angry. Just signed up for a recurring payroll deduction donated to the SPLC. It's not much but at least my employer matches all our donations.
posted by Bacon Bit at 9:39 AM on October 7, 2015


You can also support the ACLU with a donation.

I've been leery about supporting the ACLU after their support of Citizen's United and their ties to big tobacco.
posted by drezdn at 9:41 AM on October 7, 2015


Priorities, people! In Alabama, it's more important to drug test pregnant women.
posted by CincyBlues at 9:54 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Priorities, people! In Alabama, it's more important to drug test pregnant women.

And appoint lawyers to represent the fetus!
posted by Thorzdad at 10:09 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Priorities, people! In Alabama, it's more important to drug test pregnant women.

If you're on Medicaid they just wait until after the epidural to test you.
posted by Talez at 10:10 AM on October 7, 2015


It certainly looks crass, shameless and why-the-hell-isnt-that-illegal from here. Under a black president, too. But I don't really get the nuances of federal-vs-state determination of democratic standards in the US; it's one of those areas so stuffed with detailed, deep history that's outside my ken that I can only express dumb outrage.

I haven't done the sums, but why not organise a movement where people from blue states move to the right bits of Alabama in sufficient numbers to tip the voting (without endangering the home state figures). You can go home afterwards.

I know it's hard to enumerate the number of reasons why people might not want to do this (I've neer been to Alabama: Florida, Louisiana and Georgia were enough for me), but a U-Haul and a couple of sweaty summers working freelance online For Great Justice?

(says the man sitting on his arse in the People's Republic of North London, who'd have to be really sure it would work before he shifted it to a marginal consituency. But if it broke the back of the neolib cheating bastards...)
posted by Devonian at 10:12 AM on October 7, 2015


Wow, I know that comments on news articles are usually a "There Be Monsters" situation, but... those comments are insanely racist. Is it too late to reoccupy the South and reinstitute Reconstruction?

Ehhh, let's not go there. Racist comments on articles are not geographically restricted / the population of the southern states is not uniform in opinion / Reconstruction wasn't exactly a happy ending / etc. etc. These comments aren't helpful, especially to people reading in the south.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 10:12 AM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reconstruction wasn't exactly a happy ending

Well yes, it ended with the surrender of the United States, power back firmly in the hands of the southern elites who created the Confederacy, and decades of Jim Crow and slavery in all but name.

Honestly, can you look at the situation we're discussing here today and argue that the Union won the Civil War in any meaningful sense?
posted by Naberius at 10:19 AM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Honestly, can you look at the situation we're discussing here today and argue that the Union won the Civil War in any meaningful sense?

To be fair the entire reconstruction period was pretty much insurrection but without being named.
posted by Talez at 10:33 AM on October 7, 2015


I know it's hard to enumerate the number of reasons why people might not want to do this

Humidity.
And it's Alabama.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:40 AM on October 7, 2015


I haven't done the sums, but why not organise a movement where people from blue states move to the right bits of Alabama in sufficient numbers to tip the voting

Because the politicians in power will literally redraw the borders to exclude you from any contested districts.

The Republicans haven't won a fair election in 10 years.
posted by schmod at 10:45 AM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Republicans haven't won a fair election in 10 years.

Longer than that.
posted by Gelatin at 10:46 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


A lot of outrage ought to be directed at the DNC which, it seems to me, has sat on it's hands in the face of an organized, planned, and very effective campaign to rig the entire electoral system.
Somehow conservative folks seem to think (based on their behavior) that "gaming" the rules is clever - and moral - in business, government, and politics. Libs - even when organized into a national party - are apparently helpless to resist, or even get that they're getting screwed.
This game has been running since at least 2000 in plain sight and since forever everywhere else.
Where is the Dem (real big D) party? Why won't the party even speak, let alone act?
Also; I call this game "voter fraud" and I think we all should, maybe get back some kind of edge.
posted by Alter Cocker at 10:57 AM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


The DNC is a federal level organization, voting access is decided on a state and hyperlocal level, while there's essentially nothing left of the Democratic Party on a state level, much less an effective party apparatus that can influence voting rights, in most of the South, much less in Alabama.
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:00 AM on October 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I haven't done the sums, but why not organise a movement where people from blue states move to the right bits of Alabama in sufficient numbers to tip the voting (without endangering the home state figures). You can go home afterwards.

Plus there are no jobs or support networks in the new places for these people, and if they try they'll almost certainly be hit with new waves of racism/classism (ala the response to new waves of the Great Migration). In addition, moving is expensive as hell, especially if you don't own a new place--moving to a new apartment often requires hefty deposit fees. (My last place cost I think in the neighborhood of $800 to move in, all told--of course, this was worse because I had the nerve to own a dog and a cat and my spouse's rent history wasn't perfect, but even so it would have been in the neighborhood of $400 just to move in. Ignoring the cost of actually hauling all one's stuff across thousands of miles...)

After that, you have to live in a new state for at least a year in most states to establish residency and be allowed to vote, which is REALLY difficult to do if you're poor and really need your job right then but also are planning to move back. Even when my partner moved to Texas from Canada, because they didn't have a Canadian driver's license (Toronto having obviated the need for one), they weren't allowed to apply for a Texan one until they had proven they'd lived here for 30 days. And even then that involved a slightly nightmarish ordeal at the DMV about whether my partner's (Albertan) birth certificate was acceptable, whether their passport page saying they were legally clear to enter the country was okay in lieu of a formal green card (which hadn't yet arrived), etc. etc.

And on top of that, you have to do it all again if you aren't moving intending to put down roots at the new place. And the physical act of moving is its own hell of a thing to do, because interstate moves in the US often require drive times of at least eight hours if you're not living in the Northeast with all the tiny states. Regarding the "move back afterwards" bit, I mean.

Blech. I love you guys, but can we really not with the whole "well why don't the Southerners just move?!?!" comments for the nth time?
posted by sciatrix at 11:16 AM on October 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


My friends and I are exploring how we can get some organized busses on the ground to help people get the necessary IDs to vote in Alabama. I don't think we can wait for politicians or the courts to do it.
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:21 AM on October 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


(And the links here are extremely useful - thank you)
posted by Joey Michaels at 11:22 AM on October 7, 2015


Where is the Dem (real big D) party? Why won't the party even speak, let alone act?

Because corruption is endemic in Alabama politics, and the head of the state Democratic Party, Joe Reed, is not only breathtakingly crooked, he's also an incompetent asshat who rules the party as his own personal fiefdom and is more than happy to sell his fellow African-American Alabamians (and the rest of us yella dogs) down the river for a pittance. This is why Senators Shelby and Sessions get re-elected, because Reed had rather LET THEM RUN UNOPPOSED than back a candidate who might threaten his sweet little sinecure. Reed isn't a "glass half-full" kinda guy; he's a "fuck you get your own glass" kinda guy.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming Alabama Democrats for what the GOP are doing to my state. I AM, however, suggesting that maybe they wouldn't have gotten away with this if the state party had a leader who wasn't a craven buffoon.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:23 AM on October 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Joey - will you loop me in if/when you have concrete plans? My email is in my profile.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:24 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, if anyone puts together concrete plans, clue me in. I can offer a place to crash in Birmingham at least.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:27 AM on October 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I for one would love to see a Metafilter bus brigade travelling back and forth throughout Alabama taking people to get their IDs.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:29 AM on October 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


You know, I know that in Texas we have a similar brigade that basically gives poor women lifts to places that provide legal abortion, to increase access to those places. Anyone knows if there's some similar local infrastructure in any cities or locations in Alabama? I bet they'd be great to talk to.
posted by sciatrix at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Buses are a good idea. A volunteer ride-sharing/driving program might make sense, too.

Maybe we could petition Lyft or Uber or some such to donate rides.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:31 AM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Republicans haven't won a fair election in 10 years.

Longer than that.


Much longer...and it's not simply a partisan issue.
Campbell, Tracy. Deliver the Vote: A History of Election Fraud, An American Political Tradition, 1742-2004 (Basic Books, 2005) (WorldCat)
posted by lazycomputerkids at 11:39 AM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another thing I was thinking... If people are helping to provide transportation, could we also figure out a way to fund paying for the IDs (and any other necessary documents) themselves? Alabama is putting up a poll tax here and by the time anyone can fight it the election will be over (as per design). Transportation is only half the battle.
posted by downtohisturtles at 11:40 AM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am so happy to hear that in Alabama, everyone has adequate transportation and can take a few hours off work without consequence!
posted by miyabo at 11:41 AM on October 7, 2015


I am so happy to hear that in Alabama, everyone has adequate transportation and can take a few hours off work without consequence!

It's a worker's paradise, because Jesus and super low business and property taxes!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:44 AM on October 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I really appreciate how quickly this conversation has gone from 'this is a super shitty thing' to including 'hey I have some concrete ideas about what we can do to alleviate this super shitty thing and am in fact working on it right now'.
posted by nogoodverybad at 12:16 PM on October 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


Loop me in, too. I'm only a couple hours north of Huntsville.
posted by joannemerriam at 12:22 PM on October 7, 2015


How hard can it be to go to the next county over? Just dri... ohhhhhhhh, now I get it.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:26 PM on October 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wellll, I live here. Not an apologist for any of it, nor would I deny a racist undercurrent to any of it, but as some points of discussion that may not be familiar to some of you:

- the ALEA driver license function is both broke and broken. I have teenage children and a common name that means I get to go to the driver license office whenever I renew - the probate court, for some reason, cannot access whatever magical database that the driver license clerk can access which allows him or her to INSTANTLY tell that I'm not a criminal. So I've been traipsing back and forth to this office several times in the past year or so. Where I live, I could be standing on the capital steps in 30 minutes drive from my house, and it's STILL a miserable experience getting a renewal, taking a written test, or getting a road test scheduled. This is BOTH due to a chronically underfunded department (so, not enough clerks, examiners, etc.) and chronic stupidity/lack of customer service orientation -- the first time I tried to take one of my sons to take a permit test they were, during normal business hours, and unannounced, closed statewide due to a computer upgrade. I had checked on the website to verify business hours and they did not, of course, announce this fact.

The predominantly white county in which I live (which is adjacent to Montgomery) probably did not get their office closed. But they might as well. They keep bankers hours, and any time I've gone there it's a miserable 2-3 hour wait in a hallway with no seating to speak of. I didn't even consider trying to get my child's road test done there, because it's a complete crapshoot trying to get in on the even SMALLER window of hours in which they have an examiner drop in and try to get half a day's worth of road tests done (no, they don't take appointments - you have to just get in line and hope). If you want to get an appointment in an office which has road tests going on all day every day, you must go to one of the main offices, of which I'm guessing there are about 7-9 in the whole state.

On one of these recent visits to said main office (a road test day), the commander of the driver license division (who is african-american, for what it's worth) actually came out and spoke to several of us who were crammed into a waiting area about the size of an average living room, spilling out onto the sidewalk. He seemed like a really nice guy, and it would be interesting to get his take on this. I doubt, as a man near the top of a fairly political department, he'd be willing to talk on the record, however.

- the state, overall, is both broke and broken. The governor and legislature (which are both Republican) are locked in this budget battle, and just like the federal budget game (except worse because we can't print money, and have a balanced budget requirement), engage in gamesmanship about the consequences of not getting stuff done. Of course the offices and services that all citizens need every day are going to be the ones they talk about cutting, because all sides are trying to get public support for whatever their position is. Don't forget that as a virtually one-party state, everyone who seriously wants to get elected is a Republican. So as that tent has grown, the factions and divides have come under it. I would not object to your thinking of the lot of them as evil assclowns; I just think it's a mistake to think of them as a monolithic block of evil assclowns who are working from a predictable set of motives.

So the takeaways (I won't say TL;DR, because I'm not sure I've wound down yet):

- I am aware that I am looking at it from a position of privilege. More than once in my minor struggles to get everyone in my household licensed, I have pondered how it seems tough for me, a white guy with a car who has flexible work hours and lives near one of the major cities, so how tough would it be for a poor person out in a rural area? (and I wondered about that before these announcements).

- I am aware that the voter ID thing has racial implications; that at least some of those who have championed it are doing so to discourage minority voters. If they wanted to deny that, they should be pushing to make the process easier. Even if voter ID went away tomorrow, they NEED to make the process of getting a photo ID (a driver license for most, a non-driving ID for some) cheaper and easier, because regardless of the status of voter ID in Alabama or any other state, not having a photo ID in this day and time is pretty crippling for a lot of things. I hire people all the time and the two things I need to process a new hire is generally going to be a driver license and a social security card.

- I am less sure that the proposed closures are a racist plot per se, or more of a general "screw you" to less politically influential (i.e. poorer) areas. Or maybe even a "Oh Lord they wouldn't do that" jack move designed to mobilize voters and put pressure on their representatives. I am not trying to be flippant about this, but on the assumption that these rural offices are as bad or worse as the one in my home county, it's not making an already very bad situation a whole LOT worse.

Alabama bugs me sometimes, but I think the human race is fallen generally and on the whole I think if I lived in New Jersey I'd just be in a lot of the same stuff, only colder. We have liberals and conservatives, Dems and Republicans, people all along the religious (and non-religious spectrum), gay and straight, etc. etc. etc.

If you're coming this way and want to argue with me about any of this, feel free to PM me. I'll buy you a cup of coffee. We have Starbucks all over the place.
posted by randomkeystrike at 1:01 PM on October 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Y'all please keep me apprised of any local assistance developments - I'm in Auburn. Working on Bernie campaign #Aubern, natch, and if I can help with this too (or recruit others), I will.
posted by FuzzyVerde at 1:09 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Last Friday, I went to get my driver's license renewed. Didn't matter that my current driver's license had not yet expired, I was required to have a passport or birth certificate (restrictions on the sorts of birth certificates accepted), a doctor's certificate to show that I was healthy enough to drive and proof of address.

And it took six hours.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:48 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Unfathomably horrible. I remember some people giving me trouble for watching an F1 race that took place in China (and other countries) because China has an awful government that violates the rights and liberty of its citizens. My response was, "but there's also a race in the States, and surely you're familiar with the massive clusterfuck of extreme hated filled politics that saturates much of the system and condemns many people to poverty, prison, and the fringes of society?" Responses of denial followed of course, which I pointed out is part of the issue. Then people became walls upon which words are entirely ineffective.

At least our beloved politicians, who regularly scream about lowering taxes, are delivering for American corporations, which helps defund any revenue collected to run the government. Not to mention the ongoing attempts to ensure information is only accessible by the middle class to wealthy. History indeed. Sad to see walls have already been built, and continue to be built, in the States.
posted by juiceCake at 1:50 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


(restrictions on the sorts of birth certificates accepted)

Wait, what? We all only have one birth certificate, that I know of...
posted by Melismata at 1:52 PM on October 7, 2015


I had to get my out of state plates changed over for MA plates. It continually boggles my mind how criminally underfunded DMVs are in this country.
posted by Talez at 1:56 PM on October 7, 2015


Wait, what? We all only have one birth certificate, that I know of...

My mother has two. She was issued a second one when she changed her first name from the one she was given at birth to the nickname for it she has used her whole life.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:01 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This completely boggles my mind. I renewed my driver's license this year in Socialist Kanada (Ontario) . . . I just had to fill in a form online, printed off a temporary license, and they mailed the new one me.
posted by fimbulvetr at 2:12 PM on October 7, 2015


Where is the Dem (real big D) party? Why won't the party even speak, let alone act?

Historically, the Ds have spots of blood on their hands, so they are loath to call out the dripping gore covering the corpulent body of the GOP. They know all too well that the mainstream media will simple false-equivalence it away.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:18 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alabama bugs me sometimes, but I think the human race is fallen generally and on the whole I think if I lived in New Jersey I'd just be in a lot of the same stuff, only colder.

For what it's worth, when I moved to western NY in 2007 -- the first time I'd ever lived full time in Yankeeland -- I spent the first year continually surprised at how professional, efficient, and mostly sensible government services were. I hadn't quite realized how "Fuck you, taxpayer" stuff in FL/NC/TX really was.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:29 PM on October 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Nina Simone is rolling over, swapping "Mississippi" and "Alabama." Goddam.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:47 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It continually boggles my mind how criminally underfunded DMVs are in this country.

On top of the general anti-government ideology here, I think there is a linked culturally-entrenched cycle whereby the (underfunded and thus understaffed and slow) DMV is seen as demonstrating that government can't do even a simple job properly and so it should be punished for its "bad" performance by cutting its funding, which results in the DMV becoming even more understaffed and slow, thereby further enraging the people and incentivizing further retributive funding cuts, and down and down the system spirals.

If only more Americans could experience the incredible bang for buck you get from a properly funded government of the people. (And then allow that value for money to happen at home.)
posted by anonymisc at 2:58 PM on October 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'll come back to this thread and send messages to anyone who'd like to be involved if we're actually able to get anything going. We want to make sure that we're not duplicating the work of another group (in which case we'll just offer to help that group) and that we're able to make this work in a way that's effective for the actual people effected. All of the information about alternate IDs is useful and maybe a major part of this is just finding ways of getting that information to the effected districts. Also, if you are motivated to do something, don't wait for us. Sometimes "hey these guys are working on something" can turn into "so I don't have to."

Alabama is a great state (visited several times) with a rich and contradictory history and its hardly the only state where vote suppression schemes have been enacted into law. However, this is especially egregious.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:18 PM on October 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think there is a linked culturally-entrenched cycle whereby the (underfunded and thus understaffed and slow) DMV is seen as demonstrating that government can't do even a simple job properly and so it should be punished for its "bad" performance by cutting its funding, which results in the DMV becoming even more understaffed and slow, thereby further enraging the people and incentivizing further retributive funding cuts

That's the entire Republican governance philosophy, except you're missing one thing, the solution to inefficient government failure is always privatization, preferably to companies controlled by donors.
posted by T.D. Strange at 4:05 PM on October 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Historically, the Ds have spots of blood on their hands, so they are loath to call out the dripping gore covering the corpulent body of the GOP. They know all too well that the mainstream media will simple false-equivalence it away.

True enough - and maybe more than "spots" too - but if you can't get a fair fight, you have to either fix the game or cheat better.
Most folks pick fix the game.
The "voter fraud" fraud has been a four alarm fire for a decade or more and still invisible to a lot of people. I know the DNC
is a national org, but who else to lead the charge against a national problem?
Also - Thanks for the insight BitterOldPunk, a corrupt state party actually seems like a more difficult problem.
posted by Alter Cocker at 4:18 PM on October 7, 2015


For what it's worth, when I moved to western NY in 2007 -- the first time I'd ever lived full time in Yankeeland -- I spent the first year continually surprised at how professional, efficient, and mostly sensible government services were. I hadn't quite realized how "Fuck you, taxpayer" stuff in FL/NC/TX really was.

It really does vary state by state up here too. On one hand, I once waited 2 hours on a line that snaked outdoors and across the entire parking lot in 90 degree heat just to renew my NJ license. I nearly had to intervene in a domestic dispute that flared up when the woman in front of me realized she was one point shy of the (utterly absurd) ID requirement and had to go home, after waiting on that line. I honestly thought her bf was going to get physically violent.

On the other hand, I just yesterday updated my NY license for a new address. It took me all of 5 minutes. On the phone. And once the various state databases get updated and recognize that my building does, in fact, exist, I'll be able to do it all online.

So, in short, states can make this as easy or as hard as they want; it just depends on funding and priorities. And, of course, an absence of racist political manipulation.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 5:32 PM on October 7, 2015


I don't think it is conspiracy mongering to say that this is exactly the outcome the Republicans on the Supreme Court were hoping for when they voted to gut the VRA. I think the time to stop pretending the Supreme Court was apolitical was back in 2000 when the Republican Justices stole the election from Gore in order to allow their party to take the presidency, but the Republican Justices have been a lot more naked in their displays of partisanship of late.

By the time the lawsuits are sorted out the 2016 elections will have come and gone, and poor black folks in Alabama will have missed at least one national election thanks to this. And, since the VRA is gutted, not only can Alabama do something equally bad for the 2018 elections, so can all the other states with Republican legislatures. And no one can stop them. Even if they lose every lawsuit, they'll just change one or two details and do it all over again necessitating another lawsuit that will also be too late to stop them.

And meanwhile the Republican Justices pretend to be impartial strict constitutionalists.
posted by sotonohito at 5:34 PM on October 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Another fwiw, but my local DMV in VA is fast, efficient and friendly with lots of seating, and lots of things can be done online.

The small-minded nature of state politics still astounds me although I guess it shouldn't.
posted by idb at 6:46 PM on October 7, 2015


“AL Secretary of State defends DMV closures”All In with Chris Hayes, 06 October 2015
posted by ob1quixote at 7:35 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Voter suppression is a real thing in America's most conservative states, and there are a dozen ways to achieve it besides the usual party tricks like dead people voting, Jerrymandering, ballot manipulation, or sending confusing robo-calls about changes that aren't real (disinformation). Here is a short list that voting officials may try to use:

1. Changing polling locations. An election official can make this call just days before an election.

2. Changing polling hours or eliminating early voting days. This may be particularly problematic in urban counties where long polling lines are most likely, as Henry Grabar reported last fall.

3. Reducing the number of polling places. This raises the same problem as above, particularly when the eliminated polling places had disproportionately served minority communities.

4. At-large elections. At-large elections for school-board members or city councils often dilute the voting power of minorities who have greater influence in single-candidate district elections. In an at-large election, a cohesive voting block with 51 percent of the vote can elect 100 percent of the officials.

5. Packing majority-minority districts. Election maps drawn to push all of a community's minorities in one or a handful of districts can dilute their voting power.

6. Dividing minority districts. Similarly, election maps can slice minority communities into multiple districts so that they have no cumulative influence in any one place. The line between these two tactics is a fine one (and also illustrates why the VRA was useful for assessing facts on the ground).

7. Voter ID laws: This increasingly popular tactic, sometimes likened to a modern-day poll tax, has the potential to disenfranchise voters who don't have a driver's license, or who don't have the money or ability to obtain one (a disproportionate share of these people are minorities). Such laws can also have a disproportionate impact in cities, where many people don't own cars.

8. Onerous candidate qualifications. In 2007, a Texas provision tried to limit those people eligible to become water district supervisors to landowners who were registered to vote.

9. Changing multi-lingual voter assistance. Making it harder for non-English language speakers to vote is a good way to dilute their power.

10. Changing election dates. Another trick that may not require legislative approval.

11. Creating new elections. In 2006, the DOJ objected to a plan in the Houston area that would have eliminated some joint elections and required voters to travel to multiple polling places.

12. Canceling elections. We're not even really sure how Kilmichael, Mississippi, thought they could get away with this.

posted by Brian B. at 8:40 PM on October 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


“AL Secretary of State defends DMV closures”—All In with Chris Hayes, 06 October 2015

That was painful to watch.

It looks like the transcript isn't up yet (but it will eventually be on the MSNBC website), but I typed up a quick (and likely error-filled) one for now:
Secretary of State: One of things we have to make sure that people understand is that we're being very agressive in reaching out [to unregistered voters to get them photo ID]...first of all we have a location in [each county] where people can get a photo ID at no cost

Chris Hayes: [these are only issuing voting only ID?]

Secretary of State:That's correct.

Chris Hayes: [Ok, so - what kind of ID do you have when you vote]

Secretary of State: Oh, I have a driver's license. Most of the people in the state do.

Chris Hayes: [isn't that -- the pain of having to wait, to go and take a day to go to the dmv -]

Secretary of State: Now wait, wait -- when you go to the board of [registrars] there's no wait. When you go to get a driver's license, in some of our counties, there's a tremendous wait. In the counties you're talking about, they were only [open at] particular times and all of them were not open each and every day...some of them were only open once or twice a month and only then for people to go in and have a driver's test administered.

Chris Hayes: [but here's the issue - let's assume for a momennt that the intent is pure...can you assure me that there won't be a disparate impact -- ]

Secretary of State: Oh absolutely, this isn't a black/white issue, this is rural issue. If you look at the closures that have occured, all of the counties that were affected in our state were all rural. If you look at the demographic nature for our state, you would see that [many of the counties] in Alabama are deemed rural. So obviously it's going to be a rural issue. And eleven of those counties that are affected do have predominantly black populations.

Chris Hayes: [But can you show -- in terms of the VRA, are you going to be able to look at the numbers afterwards and show that there wasn't a disparate impact because of this closing?]

Secretary of State: Absolutely, because one of the other things we're doing, we are sending in [a] mobile [registration] unit to each and every county and making sure that everyone has an opportunity outside of the county seat to register to vote. We're sending them to festivals, we're sending them to schools, we're sending them to churches, we're going on Saturdays and Sundays, we're sending them to Walmart. We're doing it so each and every individual is exposed to the opportunity, with publicity far in advance so they know that they're coming, we're doing it to make sure that people are aware when they have that opportunity, they can take advantage of it.

Chris Hayes: [How many IDs has that mobile unit issued this year?]

Secretary of State: That mobile unit has only issued 29 IDs this year. In total, this year, in the entire state, we've issued 1,442 [IDs].

Christ Hayes: [My understanding is that you have two-hundred and fifty THOUSAND eligible voters without ID in Alabama. Thank you for your time!
To paraphrase:
'How do you plan to meet the disparate impact standards as set out by the VRA?'
'Well, it's really a rural issue, so we're fine.'
'Sure, but what kind of numbers are you collecting to make sure you can back that up in terms of disparate impact?'
'By doing a lot of outreach to make sure people get voter IDs, so it's not a hassle.'
'...does anyone in your state actually want a voter ID and not a driver's license? Do you use one?'
'No, most people prefer driver's licenses, obviously. But the rural testing centers were awful anyway, so this isn't really any worse.'
'Right, but how do you plan to meet the disparate impact standards? Has the mobile unit been successful so far?'
'It has not.'

Seriously: their outreach plan is a mobile registration center. It has registered twenty-nine people so far. Twenty-nine.
posted by cjelli at 8:49 PM on October 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Time to re-constitute the Freedom Rides. I'm not even kidding.
posted by dry white toast at 9:54 PM on October 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mod note: Couple of comments deleted. "This isn't a problem" isn't a great way to jump in here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:15 AM on October 8, 2015 [7 favorites]




Someone should set up a non-profit that will:

1. Provide assistance and instructions to anyone to help them register to vote.
2. Give a person a dollar for voting. This might be legally shady, so really what I would suggest would be to:
a. Trade a person a dollar for one of those "I Voted" stickers.
b. Dip their finger in ink to show that they've sold their "I voted" sticker to the nonprofit.
c. This would be done on the last day of the election so that people do not double dip.

Sure, it's only a buck, but it could also be something else - free food or gift certificates or some sort of rally to win something big.

If this post is offensive or whatever, please rest assured, I didn't mean it that way.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 5:27 PM on October 11, 2015


The Rude Pundit: Alabama Sucks Because It Dishonors Its Own African American Heritage

Really good points made in that article. Disrespecting black heritage is practically a condition of membership in the Southern Racist Heritage Society Clown Car.

I do need to clarify a misstatement that it makes, though, because I see it again and again. And I say it not to excuse what happened, because what actually did happen was horrendous enough to earn loud, historically extreme condemnation and the changes in medical ethics it prompted. The statement, referring to Tuskegee, is
It's also the place where poor black sharecroppers were deliberately infected with syphilis to study its effects.
The study subjects were not deliberately infected by the researchers. Rather, they showed up infected and the horrendous decision was made to study the untreated course of their disease rather than treat them. At the time the study was initiated, treatment was often worse than the cure, but that is not a moral defense. Later, when effective cures were available, the researchers (and I use that word with misgivings) decided to withhold that medication as well. When all this came to light, it led to the Belmont report and the principles that currently underlie ethical research on humans. The Wikipedia article has links to original sources for anyone who wants to know more about this study.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:39 AM on October 13, 2015


I do need to clarify a misstatement that it makes, though, because I see it again and again.

It's an easy misstatement to make, since the U.S. government did deliberately infect people with syphilis (and without consent) as part of a (roughly) contemporaneous research project in Guatemala -- and the lead researcher in the Guatemalan project was also later involved in the Tuskegee experiments.
posted by cjelli at 9:31 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Alabama driver's license offices could reopen under Bentley plan
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is seeking legislative support for a plan that would reopen 31 closed rural driver's license offices. The plan would involve a "bridge loan" from the governor's emergency fund to pay for staffing closed license offices, officials say. In return, Bentley wants rural and black lawmakers to support permanent funding when the Legislature convenes next year. Government sources say Bentley has not committed finally to the plan yet, but has floated the idea to seek lawmakers' response.
posted by cjelli at 1:08 PM on October 13, 2015


U.S. government did deliberately infect people with syphilis (and without consent) as part of a (roughly) contemporaneous research project in Guatemala

Yep, that they did.

Alabama driver's license offices could reopen under Bentley plan

Yes, voter suppression is so important that we will spend whatever we have to to protect the barrier mechanism from legal challenge, rather than roll back the ID requirement.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:07 AM on October 14, 2015


Yes, voter suppression is so important that we will spend whatever we have to to protect the barrier mechanism from legal challenge, rather than roll back the ID requirement.

Would it be overly cynical to think that this was their plan all along?
  1. Do something that will have the effect of suppressing voter turnout.
  2. Do something really obvious that will have a much greater effect of suppressing voter turnout.
  3. Roll back Step 2.
  4. Act like the problem is solved.
  5. If anyone objects to Step 1, point out how incredibly generous and difficult that the sacrifices made in giving up Step 2 were.
  6. Profit.
posted by Etrigan at 11:14 AM on October 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


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