Hillary Clinton is pissed about the fact that the State of Alabama recently closed a small number of branch drivers license offices.
Clinton criticized Alabama’s Republican governor, Robert Bentley, for closing drivers licenses offices in 31 counties, many of them majority African-American. Alabama requires photo identification to vote.
“This is a blast from the Jim Crow past,” she told about 700 people at a luncheon of the Alabama Democratic Conference
In this, she follows Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who’s been ranting about the issue.
What actually happened? The State of Alabama operates a number of large, fully-time drivers license offices throughout the state. (That number is 44, to be exact.) Until recently, they also operated a number of smaller satellite offices. (31, to be exact.) These satellite offices were typically open only one day a week, and they were responsible for processing very few licenses–less than 5 percent of the total. This year the satellite offices were closed, while the larger full-time offices remained open.
Why were the offices closed? For budget reasons, not for any reason that had anything to do with race. The Yahoo article I linked to noted that the closings are in “31 counties, many of them majority African-American”. It failed to note that many of them are in counties that aren’t majority African-American. The satellite offices were mainly in rural areas. Most of Alabama’s rural areas have a large majority of whites. The state government closed all the small satellite offices in the state without exception, thus showing no preference by race.
Will this make it difficult to get an ID? No. As the state’s guide says, in addition to being able to get a driver’s license at any of the many DMV offices throughout the state, voters can also get a free voter ID card at any Registrars office. There is such an office in every county. Therefore the closing down of the satellite DMV offices obviously will not create any obstacle to any person obtaining a free photo ID. Moreover, any government-issued ID is valid for voting, state or federal, and the enormous majority of voters already have an ID. Thus they don’t even need to mosey the few miles down the road to get their free state ID card.
So if the shutting down of a few, rarely-used offices has nothing to do with race and won’t prevent anyone from getting an ID or from voting, why is Hillary comparing it to Jim Crow laws? I don’t know, and I’m not holding my breath while waiting for her to explain what she said.