Tuesday, 27 October 2015 00:00

U.S. Justice Department threatens to sue Alabama over voting law

Written by Ryan Phillips | Birmingham Business Journal

The U.S. Department of Justice in September notified Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange that it would file a lawsuit against the state of Alabama for failure to enforce various sections of the National Voter Registration Act.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta authorized the state to enforce the section of the NVRA, which requires that any driver's licenses filed with the appropriate agencies could also be used as a method of registering to vote.

Gupta wrote, "Our investigation indicates widespread noncompliance with Section 5 in Alabama. Throughout the state, it appears that applications for an Alabama driver's license or a non-driver identification card do not serve as applications for voter registration with respect to elections for federal office, and that change of address submissions for driver license purposes do not serve as notification of a change of address for voter registration purposes."

Gupta continued by saying the failure to implement this section of the law ultimately deprives Alabama residents of more voter registration opportunities.

The lawsuit filing has been delayed to give the department time to reach a possible settlement with Alabama officials, Gupta said.

The possible lawsuit is the latest in a series of problems being addressed concerning Alabama's driver's license operations.

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D – 7th District, requested that the Justice Department investigate the closing of 31 part-time Alabama driver's license offices following budget cuts. Rumors followed the closures, with many asserting that the impacted offices were mostly in Alabama's Black Belt.

The closings come in the wake of an $11 million cut in funding to Alabama Law Enforcement Agency following the most recently formed General Fund budget.

While the Justice Department awaits Alabama's next move, Gov. Robert Bentley did announce that the funds have been shored up to open offices one day a month to service those counties affected by the recent closures.

Link to original article from Birmingham Business Journal

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