In a newly released short documentary on Alabama’s controversial voter ID law, Secretary of State John Merrill could not provide documented proof of voter fraud while explaining the rationale for the provision. “In Alabama, we want to make it real easy to vote and real hard to cheat,” Merrill says in the 11-minute documentary produced by First Look Media, titled “The Black Belt.” “People who have come into our state and said that Alabama’s a backward state and this is a racial issue on closing the DMVs — that’s certainly not the case at all.” Gov. Robert Bentley’s decision to close 31 driver’s licenses offices last year, which opponents said disproportionately affected minorities, the disabled and the poor, was made as the state faced a budget crunch. Driver’s licenses are the most commonly used form of identification used at polling places, and only an accepted photo ID can be used to cast a ballot in Alabama. Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton weighed in on the controversy during a visit to Hoover in October, calling the closures “a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Merrill only offered anecdotal evidence of voter fraud in Alabama. Fraud was the main argument for instituting the voter ID law.
“We had had it reported where incidences had occurred where an individual went to vote and it was overheard by a poll watcher that Jimmy’s going to have to work late today so he wanted me to make sure I got his ballot and then I voted for Jimmy. That’s a problem, because that way that guy’s vote counts more than one. Because he voted for himself and he would’ve been able to vote for jimmy if he’d not been called out by the election official who was on task that particular day,” Merrill says.