In many ways, Alabama is the cradle of the voting rights movement, a place where Wilcox County circuit clerk Ralph Ervin says “stumbling blocks” have been turned into “stepping stones”. But on Super Tuesday civil rights activists say those stumbling blocks are preventing black voters from going to the polls. The issue in this state, where a quarter of the population are African-American, is voter ID laws. In 2014, the state changed the law and now requires all voters to produce government-issued photo IDs. At first glance that does not seem like an unreasonable request and those who back the law say it prevents voter fraud. But in sparsely populated poor communities, like Wilcox County, public transport is virtually non-existent -compounding the problem is the partial closure of more than 30 drivers license offices, many in predominantly black counties.
Presidential candidate Hilary Clinton called the law “a blast from the Jim Crow past” – and this is an issue Ervin has fought long and hard against. ‘”We serve the same God as everybody else does,” Ervin said, slamming his fist into his hand. “This is just as much our country and our county as it is anybody else’s,” he added.
State officials say any claims that they are trying to suppress the African-American vote are unfounded. Officials say mobile units will scour the poorer communities to ensure that those who do not have the means to travel to get a government-issued ID are taken care of – but civil rights activists continue to fight for change.
According to statistics, there are a quarter of a million potential voters here who do not have approved government ID, and most of those voters are poor and black.