MSNBC Contributor Dorian Warren Explains How Alabama's Decision To Close 31 Driver's License Centers Could Result In Minority Voter Disenfranchisement
Voter Protection Advancement Project's Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez: Alabama's Decision "Is Only Going To Make It Harder For African-Americans To Vote"
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From the October 4 edition of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry:
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DORIAN WARREN (GUEST HOST): Here on MPH as part of our reporting on the electorate's right to be heard and represented, we make it a point to track concerns about voter suppression which is why this week we turn our attention to Alabama where voting just became that much harder in 28 counties. This week the Alabama state legislature had to figure out how to slash its budget ahead of next fiscal year. The solution -- fewer parks, five state parks would be closed, fewer National Guard armories, and 31 fewer offices that provide driver's licenses. Now, this might sound like a simple, local inconvenience but the decision could actually result in voter disenfranchisement for many members of the community. Because of a 2011 state bill that made drivers licenses or special photo IDs a requirement for voting, the office closures make the path to the ballot box that much harder for the quarter million registered Alabama voters who don't have the required IDs. And minority communities could be hit the hardest. Of the 10 counties with the highest percentages of non-white registered voters, eight will see their driver's license offices closed. In fact, all counties where black citizens comprise 75 percent of registered voters will no longer have a driver's license office.
Joining me from Washington D.C. is the Advancement Project's Director of the Voter Protection Programs Katherine Culliton-González. Katherine, what are the possible courses of action for Alabama citizens whose votes might be hampered by this decision?
CULLITON-GONZÁLEZ: I would say the most important course of action is to continue to protest because this is something that is not going to be able to be changed one voter at a time. The state has clearly made a policy trying to disenfranchise certain blocks of voters. Over 500,000 people don't have the type of voter ID that Alabama is asking for. The majority are overwhelmingly African-American and this latest move is only going to make it harder for African-Americans to vote. We need to make sure to continue to protest and tell the state to stop disenfranchising voters of color, as well as anyone else who doesn't have the ID.