According to a report from Aviva Shen at Think Progress (please see the cautionary note about that reporter below), the state of Alabama has decided at the last minute, just last Friday, that Public Housing IDs would not be sufficient for voting in today's mid-term elections.
The determination is reportedly a last minute interpretation of Alabama's new polling place Photo ID restriction by the state Attorney General, and does not appear to have been used during primary elections earlier this year...
Bernard Simelton of the Alabama NAACP State Conference told ThinkProgress that he learned Friday that voters will not be able to use their public housing ID under the Attorney General's interpretation of the new law. Simelton said he wasn't sure why, but speculated that the restriction was because the town of Bayou La Batre's housing authority is run by a private entity. "So it's not a government-run program. The city owns the property, but a private company runs it," he said.
Simelton said the NAACP would probably challenge the decision to reject public housing IDs because of the late notice.
Alabama's voter ID law is believed to have disenfranchised at least 282 voters in the primary.
Alabama's Secretary of State and Attorney General could not be reached for comment.
NOTE OF CAUTION ON THIS ITEM: We haven't had time to confirm the report above ourselves. While the information appears to be legit, it is written by Aviva Shen at Think Progress, who reported blatantly inaccurate information about The BRAD BLOG in the run-up to the 2012 election, and then used that misinformation to smear this cite as reporting a "conspiracy theory" (when, in fact, we had actually debunked the particular theory in question!). Despite repeated requests and details sent to demonstrate the error to Shen and Think Progress Senior Editor Judd Legum --- along with similar requests from then current and former Think Progress reporters --- the blatant error and included smear were never corrected by them. So, please take the information in Shen's article above along with that note of caution. Reliable HuffPo reporter Ryan Reilly, however, seems to confirm the basics of the report in a tweet yesterday, quoting the NAACP Legal Defense Fund describing the news as "very disappointing".
Aside from the Bloody Sunday march in Selma, Alabama being at the heart of what became the Voting Rights Act of 1965, that law was gutted last year by the U.S. Supreme Court, leading to new restrictions on voting like the new ID law enacted by Republicans in Alabama. The same law would likely have been rejected as discriminatory under the VRA until the Court's action last year. In June of this year, the state's new restrictions resulted in voters like 93-year old Willie Mims being turned away from the primary polls without being able to vote for the first time since WWII.
Here's video of Mims explaining what happened that day, as shot by the grassroots organization Empower Alabama.
Mims was hardly the only one turned away in June. Here's the story of a 92-year old woman who lived in the same house for 57 years and who had voted in every single election in which she'd be eligible. She was turned away from the polls in June because, at 92, she has allowed her drivers license to expire.
Similarly heartbreaking and outraging stories are almost certain to come out of Alabama today as well.
The NAACP argues such IDs should be allowed because housing officers are acting as federal agents. The law says any photo ID issued by the state or the U.S. is acceptable. But a lawyer for the Alabama secretary of state's office told Ross in an email Monday that it's the state's policy not to accept public housing IDs.
"It's really disappointing to be encountering voters who are ready and able to vote. who are being turned away because they lack voter ID, when they've voted in the past with a public housing ID," Ross said.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)