Recent budget cuts in Alabama are being used as an excuse to suppress the black vote in some regions of the state.
Voting rights are under attack by Republicans in a display of blatant disregard for the minority vote in Alabama. The state is shutting down multiple state offices in almost exclusively black communities where residents can obtain licenses needed to vote. The state released a statement on Wednesday saying,
“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 parttime [sic], non-state owned, satellite locations. Effective today, the traveling Driver License Examiners will be reallocated to staff District Driver License Offices full-time.”
U.S. Uncut reports that, “black voting will almost certainly be depressed throughout the state as a result of these closures.” The region affected is known as Alabama’s “Black Belt.” Not coincidentally, the shuttering of these offices spans directly through the center of this so called Black Belt. It is essentially a map of institutionalized racism in Alabama. It should be noted that the the state’s budget cuts have also caused a lack of basic services for people of color and the poor in the state.
Alabama is able to make these changes without formal review of its impact on black people’s right to vote because the US Supreme Court overturned the pre-approval requirements of the 1965 Voting Rights Act in 2013. In a statement, President Obama said he was “deeply disappointed with the court’s decision” as this was a clear miscarriage of justice. Former Attorney General, Eric Holder insisted that the Justice Department would continue to monitor changes in state and local voting laws however there has been no evidence proving that to be true.
These actions confirm recent criticism of the GOP that it is trying to suppress that black vote. It would be easy grounds for a lawsuit, similar to the current trial in North Carolina against the Republican-led campaign on voting laws. “A civil rights lawsuit isn’t a probability. It’s a certainty,” wrote Kyle Whitmire for AL.com. Fortunately there has been a good dose of public outrage which hopefully will translate into measurable action for black voters in Alabama.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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