Voter ID: State has issued 1,000 free cards
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When Alabama voters go to the polls for the June primaries, all Alabamians will have to show some form of photo identification.
Unlike some other states with similar provisions, Alabama's law stipulates that anyone without any identification or an acceptable form must be issued an ID free of charge.
If someone already has a driver's license or any other form of a federal or state government ID card, then they don't require a new ID. All registered voters without any form of photo identification could get one from their local Board of Registrars.
According to the Alabama Secretary of State's Office, 1,307 people have been issued the Voter ID cards. That figure doesn't include the number of people who have received new driver's licenses or non-driver ID cards from the Alabama Department of Public Safety.
"I think that we've covered a lot of the bases that maybe some states have not that were in this before we are and we've learned from their mistakes," Secretary of State Jim Bennett said.
He's referring to recent court cases in Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that saw both state and federal courts block their voter ID laws from going into effect.
"We don't have any legal challenges," Bennett said of Alabama's voter ID law. "Georgia's has been on the books since 2006 and they haven't had any problems."
When the US Supreme Court struck down key portions of the Voting Rights Act, Alabama's voter ID law went into effect immediately.
"I just don't know what the true intention is," said Sen. Quinton Ross, D-Montgomery, who opposed the measure when it was making its way through the legislature in 2011.
"I think it begs the question, do they think maybe too many people are showing up to vote?"
Sen. Ross stopped short of calling Alabama's law a "poll tax" like those of the early 1900s that were aimed at preventing African Americans from voting, but did say that some people could be easily disenfranchised with such a requirement.
Bennett says the state is making every effort with vans and elections staff traveling all over the state to provide free IDs at public events.
"Charging people to vote is not a good idea so a free ID card I think is necessary to make the law work," Bennett said.
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