The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said Monday that proposed budget cuts would force it to close all but four driver’s license offices, even though the state requires government-issued photo identification, like a driver’s license, to vote in elections. The 45 other locations would be closed in phases, the agency said, if the Republican-controlled state legislature were to pass the kind of “drastic” budget cuts it’s now considering. Lawmakers have proposed $40 million for the agency next year, which would be a $15 million cut from what it received in state funding this year. “We want citizens to know that their state law enforcement services are facing severe cuts which will result in a drastic reduction of public safety in Alabama,” a public information officer for the agency said in a statement emailed to The Huffington Post. “We encourage them to contact their state representatives and voice their concerns.”
The four remaining driver’s license offices would be in the cities of Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile, meaning that the cuts would hit people in rural areas hardest. Someone who currently can visit the office in Dothan in southeastern Alabama, for instance, would instead have to travel 107 miles to Montgomery or 186 miles to Mobile to obtain a license for the first time. (Renewals can be done online.)
The legislature passed Alabama’s photo ID law in 2011, arguing that it would prevent voter fraud — even though proven cases of in-person voter impersonation fraud are extremely rare. Voters had previously been allowed to show non-photo forms of identification, like a Social Security card or a utility bill. Now, if voters don’t have one of the acceptable forms of photo ID, they can obtain a free Alabama voter photo ID card from a county registrar’s office. And still some long-time voters couldn’t vote in last year’s elections, because they didn’t have a way to travel to such an office to get the ID.
Full Article: Alabama Risks Making It Much Harder To Get Required Voter ID.