Voter suppression act two: closing driver's license offices in Alabama's Black Belt

A favored tactic of Tea Party governors this decade has been the imposition of a poll tax in the form of voter ID laws that required voters to present a state-issued ID (usually a driver's license) in order to exercise their franchise.

The least-documented people in America are also the poorest, those for whom driving tests (and a car to take them in) are an expense that may be unbearable. But just in case too many poor and brown people (e.g. traditional Democratic voters) managed to clear that hurdle, Alabama has closed a huge number of driver's license offices, primarily those in predominantly black counties. Now you not only have to borrow a car and learn to drive in order to vote — you also have to find someone to drive you one or two counties over to get your magic paper.

Look at the list of counties now where you can't get a driver's license. There's Choctaw, Sumter, Hale, Greene, Perry, Wilcox, Lowndes, Butler, Crenshaw, Macon, Bullock …

If you had to memorize all the Alabama Counties in 9th grade, like I did — and even if you forgot most of them, like I have — you can probably guess where we're going with this.

Depending on which counties you count as being in Alabama's Black Belt, either twelve or fifteen Black Belt counties soon won't have a place to get a driver's license.

Counties where some of the state's poorest live.

Counties that are majority African-American.

Voter ID and driver's license office closures black-out Alabama's Black Belt
[Kyle Whitmire/]