I still remember when the lady in the uniform giving me my driver’s test asked me to do a three-point turn. Instead, I gave her a blank stare. I had no idea what a three-point turn was. It was a couple of days after my sixteenth birthday, and I knew right then that I wouldn’t be getting a license that day, but the lady was nice about it. Politely, she explained what I was supposed to do. Next we drove back to the Clarke County courthouse, and she failed me. A couple weeks later, I took the test again. That time, I passed, but my parents weren’t all that happy that we had to make a second trip. And that trip was only 10 miles, each way. When you live in a rural area, 10 miles seems a lot farther there. However, today a lot of folks will have to drive a lot farther just to be able to drive.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s website says their office at the Clarke County Courthouse is still open, but soon a lot of others nearby won’t be. On Wednesday, the agency announced that it would close 31 offices throughout the state, leaving 29 counties without a place where 16-year-olds can take a driver’s test, whether they pass on the first try or not. That’s an inconvenience.
But there’s something bigger happening here. In 2011, Alabama lawmakers approved the state’s voter ID law, making it illegal to vote in Alabama without a government-issued photo ID. For most folks, that’s a driver’s license.