The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF) [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Wednesday asking Alabama to loosen the discriminatory burdens resulting from their voter photo identification law. The law’s purported purpose is to prevent voter fraud by requiring voters to present a photo ID prior to voting. However, the NAACP alleges that the law resulted in an estimated 280,000 registered voters becoming ineligible to vote, which is in violation of the US Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 [texts]. The NAACP claims it is no accident that a large majority of those voters are African-American and Latino. Alabama also closed 31 DMV offices, which increases the difficulty for voters to obtain a driver’s license, the most common form of photo ID. Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the Legal Defense Fund said “the state’s deliberate decision to enforce this discriminatory photo ID law, followed by the DMV office closures, has compelled us to take action.”
Voting rights have been a contentious issue in the US recently. In October a North Carolina Superior Court judge refused [JURIST report] to dismiss a case challenging the state’s new voter ID requirement. In May the New Hampshire Supreme Court struck down [JURIST report] a 2012 law requiring voters to be state residents, not just domiciled in the state. In March the US Supreme Court denied certiorari [JURIST report] in Frank v. Walker [docket], allowing Wisconsin’s voter ID law to stand. Wisconsin’s Act 23, which requires residents to present photo ID to vote, was struck down by a federal district court but reinstated [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit last year. Also in March Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed a new law [JURIST report] that made Oregon the first state in the nation to institute automatic voter registration. Last November a federal appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a Kansas rule that required prospective voters to show proof-of-citizenship documents before registering using a federal voter registration form. Also last November Illinois voters approved the Illinois Right to Vote Amendment [JURIST report], which bans all voter discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or income.