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Bernie Sanders: Alabama Republicans are ‘cowards’ for implementing voter ID requirement

Bernie Sanders
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is running in the Democratic primary, declared via twitter Sunday that Republicans in Alabama are “cowards” for “suppressing” the votes of low income people, minorities, young people and seniors. This comes in response to the recent closure of 31 satellite Drivers’ License offices across Alabama. Sanders joins fellow Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in criticizing Republican leadership in Alabama and the GOP support for ID laws Clinton says makes voting harder for people of color and young people, two groups critical to her chances of winning the presidency, according to The Washington Post.

The closures have been met with criticism by the national media, Democrats, and voting rights advocates all across the country. On Friday, Bentley partially reversed the decision, saying that the offices would open in the affected areas once a month.

“To suggest the closure of the driver’s license offices is a racial issue is simply not true, and to suggest otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda,” said Bentley.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who is responsible for administering and overseeing elections, says there will still be multiple opportunities for people in every county to obtain an I.D. valid at the polling booth.

“The closure of 31 DMV offices will not leave citizens without a place to receive the required I.D. card to vote,” said Secretary Merrill. “All 67 counties in Alabama have a Board of Registrars that issue photo voter I.D. cards. If for some reason those citizens are not able to make it to the Board of Registrars, we’ll bring our mobile I.D. van and crew to that county. By October 31 our office will have brought the mobile I.D. van to every county in Alabama at least once.

Alabama’s new voter-ID law for both in-person and absentee voting went into effect last year and until now, hasn’t received negative feedback. Alabama has a total of 44 driver’s-license offices throughout the state. It also has 31 satellite offices that were open only part-time and that accounted for less than 5 percent of the driver’s licenses issued each year. Because of the budget passed by the state legislature, Alabama’s state government had to do away with limited resources. So the state government decided to close these satellite offices.

What all of the media and critics missed or deliberately ignored is that, in addition to being able to use a driver’s license to meet the voter-ID requirement, you can get a free voter ID in every single county in the state. In addition to DMV offices, the secretary of state offers free voter IDs in all 67 counties through the local election registrar.

“One of the most fundamental rights we as Americans are afforded is our right to vote,” says Secretary Merrill. “As Alabama’s Secretary of State and Chief Elections Official, I will do everything within my power to ensure every Alabamian is able to exercise their right to vote.”