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After Requiring Voter ID, Alabama Closes DMV Locations in Black Counties-Truth!

After Requiring Voter ID, Alabama Closes DMV Locations in Black Counties-Truth!

Summary of eRumor:
The Alabama Legislature has closed many DMV locations in majority black counties after passing a law that requires voters to show photo ID.
The Truth:
It’s true that many DMV locations in areas where mostly black people live have been closed, and that Alabama has a law on the books that requires voters to show photo ID.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) announced on September 30, 2015, that 31 driver license offices would be closed due to an $11 million cut in state funding for the ALEA:

An $11 million cut in the new General Fund appropriation to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) will force the elimination of travel to 31 part-time, non-state owned, satellite locations. Effective today, the traveling Driver License Examiners will be reallocated to staff District Driver License Offices full-time.

The reallocation of the Driver License Examiners comes one day before the effective date of the General Fund Budget passed during a special legislative session. The appropriation to ALEA was reduced in the new budget from $55,758,744 to $44,640,937.

“Since the Jan. 1, 2015 implementation date of ALEA, my staff and I have worked hard to make improvements and optimize customer convenience to the citizens of Alabama. In July, I announced several advancements that will help the Driver License issuance process including online scheduling, online driver license renewals and duplicates, self-serve kiosks, digital licensing for smart phones, and statewide equipment upgrades. Since making that announcement, we have had over 40,000 transactions online,” said Secretary of Law Enforcement Spencer Collier. “The impact of the changes due to the budget cuts will be lessened because of the implementation of these technology-based services, including online renewals.”

John Archibald, a columnist for the Alabama Media Group, noted that the majority of Alabama’s driver’s license office closures were in places with majority black populations that had high voter turnout:

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. All but Dallas and Montgomery will be closed.

Look at the 15 counties that voted for President Barack Obama in the last presidential election. The state just decided to close driver license offices in 53 percent of them.

Look at the five counties that voted most solidly Democratic? Macon, Greene, Sumter, Lowndes and Bullock counties all had their driver license offices closed.

Look at the 10 that voted most solidly for Obama? Of those, eight – again all but Dallas and the state capital of Montgomery – had their offices closed.

Because Alabama enacted a photo ID requirement for voters in 2011, many believed that the closures would make it more difficult for residents in those areas to renew or obtain an ID card or driver’s license.
One of those people was Alabama state Rep. Terri Sewell, who requested that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch launch an investigation into the closures:

“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 7th Congressional District.  These closures will potentially disenfranchise Alabama’s poor, elderly, disabled and black communities.

“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.