The Alabama Secretary of State will take the first major step in implementing a voter identification law Dec. 5, but some question whether the law places an unnecessary and discriminatory burden on voters. “It does not make it impossible to vote, but it creates hurdles,” said Decatur City Councilman Billy Jackson, who represents the district with the city’s highest poverty rate and highest percentage of black voters. “The sad thing is the hurdles are greatest for exactly the people who already feel their vote does not count.” The law, passed in 2011, requires voters to present a photo ID when they vote. Beginning in January, voters will have to present a driver’s license, a passport, a college ID with a photo or other government-issued photo IDs in order to vote. Previously, prospective voters could use non-photo IDs, including utility bills, Medicare or Medicaid cards, gun permits, fishing licenses, Social Security cards and birth certificates.
To accommodate voters without the most common form of photo ID, a driver’s license, the law instructs the Secretary of State to issue free photo voter ID cards.
The Secretary of State already entered into a $59,400 emergency contract with Georgia-based Police and Sheriff’s Press — the only bidder — to begin developing software and other systems to implement the voter ID program in time for the June primary election.
“The regular contract is being tweaked and will be submitted to the Contract Review Committee for the Dec. 5 meeting,” Secretary of State spokeswoman Emily Thompson said.