Alabama officials were taken to the woodshed last week when they reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice on implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The law includes a provision called “Motor Voter,” which requires states let anyone applying for or renewing driver’s licenses also register to vote. Alabama leaders have lawlessly ignored that mandate since it passed, but were busted in September, when the DOJ threatened to sue. As the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman reported, Principal Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta wrote to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange that the state had failed to comply with Section 5 of the law by not providing registration applications to those seeking licenses. Chastened for the perhaps intentional lapse, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and Secretary of State now have to quickly jump through a series of hoops to bring the state into compliance.
Employees of the ALEA will be required to ask driver’s license applicants if they want to register to vote, provide forms and deliver them to local Boards of Registrars promptly.
The memoranda of understanding Alabama signed on to includes other needed deadlines and mandates, such as to implement an electronic voter registration system linked to driver’s license and other kinds of identification.
Given Alabama’s reprehensible history on voting rights, the stern federal requirements are entirely justified. It’s hard not to think state agencies’ decades-long intransigence in implementing Motor Voter goes beyond mere incompetence into the arena of voter suppression.
Full Article: Ala. falls short on voting rights.