Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

ThinkProgress: After Alabama Enforces Voter ID, Shuts Down DMVs In Black Communities, Lawmaker Wants Investigation

Oct 6, 2015
In The News

Last year, Alabama began enforcing a controversial voter ID law that disenfranchised hundreds of otherwise eligible voters who lacked the proper documents. This month, the state plans to close 31 driver’s license offices — most of them in rural, impoverished, majority-black counties — making it even harder for residents to get the most common form of ID used to vote.

Alabama’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State John Merrill, has dismissed the outcry over this move from civil rights groups, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and the Congressional Black Caucus. “The criticism is strictly a liberal attempt from people who are not from here, and don’t understand what’s going on with our people or our budget situation,” he told the website TPM.

But those living in the state who are intimately familiar with its past and present are also rising up in opposition.

“I grew up in Selma; I’m a third-generation Alabamian,” said Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) during a panel on voting rights in D.C. on Tuesday. “My own dad stood in lines for water fountain labeled ‘colored.’ So now it’s frightening that we’re seeing a renewed assault on voting rights, including these DMV closures. It’s unconscionable and we should not just sit back and let this happen.”

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