n a Jan. 21 order, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler, based in Tuscaloosa, set a Feb. 11 hearing on Greater Birmingham Ministries’ move for a preliminary injunction that would suspend the photo identification rule for the March 1 primaries in Alabama. But Coogler said in his order that he could cancel the hearing if he “determines that Plaintiffs’ motion may be decided on the papers.” Coogler also limited the defendants in the lawsuit to Secretary of State John Merrill. The voter ID law, passed by the Alabama Legislature in 2011, requires those voting to have photo identification, such as a driver’s license, before casting ballots. The state did not immediately enforce the new law. But after a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that was seen as gutting the law, Alabama officials put the law into effect.
Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP sued to block Alabama’s voter ID law in early December, saying it placed an unfair burden on black and Latino voters in the state. The plaintiffs said those groups have less access to transportation than other groups in Alabama, and less ability to get the required identification.
The lawsuit also criticizes a “positively identify” provision in the law, which allows two election officials to allow someone without required identification to vote if they sign an affidavit confirming their identity. The suit said this gives election officials “unfettered discretion” to identify voters, or refuse to do so.
Full Article: Judge sets hearing in suit against Alabama voter ID law.