Willie Mims, 93, showed up to vote at his polling place in Escambia County Tuesday morning for Alabama's primary elections. Mims, who is African-American, no longer drives, doesn't have a license, and has no other form of ID. As a result, he was turned away without voting. Mims wasn't even offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot, as the law requires in that situation.
Mims, as he explains in the video below, first voted back during WWII. He says he's voted in almost every election since then. Until now...
Roth notes that it's unknown how many AL voters now lack the needed ID to cast a ballot, "because the state made no effort to find out before the ID law. But nationwide, most studies put the figure at around 11%, and as high as 25% for African-Americans."
The state's Republican legislators had originally passed the restriction on voting back in 2011, but didn't enforce it at the polls it until this year for the first time. One of the reasons, Roth suggests, is because prior to last year they would have had to submit the law for approval to either the U.S. Dept. of Justice or a D.C. federal court for preclearance under the federal Voting Rights Act. But, knowing that it would likely be struck down as discriminatory, AL held off on submitting it to the feds for approval. Instead, they waited until the U.S. Supreme Court, last summer, gutted the section of the VRA that had required preclearance for new election-related laws in states with a history of racial discrimination at the polling place. One of those states was Alabama, as the case in question was Shelby County, AL v. Holder.
Roth also notes the special loophole in Alabama's version of the polling place Photo ID restriction. "It allows people to vote without ID if two poll workers can vouch for them. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has called that aspect of the law 'an illegal relic of the Jim Crow South,' when similar tests were used to keep black voters from the polls."
All of that while, at the same time, the state GOP was placing signs in polling places around the state offering a $1,000 reward for evidence of "voter fraud".
It's unlikely they discovered the type of fraud they were pretending to look for, given the virtual non-existence of voter impersonation at the polling place (the only type of voter fraud that can be deterred by such laws.)
On the other hand, the odds are very good, as the Mims case highlights and as federal District Court Judge Lynn Adelman recently observed in striking down the Wisconsin GOP's version of the same law as unconstitutional, such restrictions on voting "will prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
Obama's DoJ is suing to block almost identical Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in Texas and in North Carolina under both Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (which is still in effect) as well as several provisions of the U.S. Constitution. If anyone has an explanation as to why the DoJ hasn't yet filed a similar suit to block Alabama's discriminatory law, we'd love to hear it.
In any event, mission accomplished for the Alabama GOP.
Here's the video of Mims explaining what happened today, as shot by the grassroots organization Empower Alabama...
Link to original article from The Brad Blog