Federal transportation officials will investigate whether Alabama violated civil rights laws by cutting back on motor vehicle services in predominantly black counties. The cutbacks already are under fire by civil rights activists who say they make it harder to get a photo ID, a requirement to vote under a new state law. Transportation officials wrote Wednesday to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, citing concerns over the reduction in services.
The agency’s Civil Rights Department said it will investigate whether the change violates Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which bans discrimination based on race, color and national origin in programs that receive federal funds.
“We hope that during the course of our investigation that we’re able to get to the bottom of this quickly,’’ Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in an interview with USA TODAY. “We want to understand whether there was either racial motivation behind this or a disparate impact sufficient to trigger Title VI.’’