Nearly three months ago, the nation lost Alabama native and legendary voting rights activist Amelia Boynton Robinson at the age of 104. She is likely looking down at her state and smiling today, for it has reached a settlement with the Department of Justice end its noncompliance with the Motor Voter Law. According to the Alabama Media Group, the state has agreed to add a voter registration section to its standard driver’s license and license renewal applications. This change will also apply to online applications, which is significant because the state closed 30 driver’s licence offices earlier this year, claiming budget cuts. Additionally, the state’s residents will now have their voting address information automatically updated when they submit a change of address for their driver’s licences.
This settlement will not just benefit Alabama’s residents in the future. As part of the agreement, the state will also implement these changes retroactively by contacting all voting-eligible residents who are are currently unregistered to vote at the address listed for their driver’s licenses or other forms of state identification.
The agreement resolves a controversy stemming from a September letter the DOJ sent to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange threatening to sue the state over its noncompliance with the 1993 Motor Voter Act. The Act comprises Section 5 of the National Voting Rights Act (NVRA), which requires states to offer its residents the opportunity to complete their voter registration when they apply to get or renew a driver’s license, thus making it easier for all Americans to register to vote in federal elections. According to a DOJ investigation, Alabama’s applications for driver’s licenses and alternative identification cards throughout the state did not serve this dual purpose of affording its residents easy voter registration while applying for a driver’s license.