The state of Alabama, which requires a photo ID to vote, announced this week that it would stop issuing driver's licenses in counties where 75 percent of registered voters are black.
Due to budget cuts, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said that 31 satellite DMV offices would no longer have access to driver's licenses examiners, meaning that residents will need to travel to other counties to apply for licenses. The move comes just one year after the state's voter photo ID law went into effect.
AL.com's John Archibald asserted in a column on Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice should open an investigation into the closings.
"Because Alabama just took a giant step backward," he wrote. "Take a look at the 10 Alabama counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters. That's Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes, Bullock, Perry, Wilcox, Dallas, Hale, and Montgomery, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Alabama, thanks to its budgetary insanity and inanity, just opted to close driver license bureaus in eight of them."
"Every single county in which blacks make up more than 75 percent of registered voters will see their driver license office closed. Every one," Archibald explained. "But maybe it's not racial at all, right? Maybe it's just political. And let's face it, it may not be either... But no matter the intent, the consequence is the same."
The columnist observed that Alabama had created both a civil rights and public relations problem for itself.
"It is an affront to the very notion of justice in a nation where one man one vote is as precious as oxygen," he insisted. "It is a slap in the face to all who believe the stuff we teach the kids about how all are created equal."
"So roll out the welcome wagon to the Justice Department, and tell the world what it already so desperately wants to hear," he concluded. "That Alabama is exactly what they always thought she was."
"That Alabama refuses to pay for its own government, and used it as an excuse to keep black people from the polls. That Alabama hasn't changed a bit."