The Wire

  • Three takeaways from Alabama’s Runoff Election

    Excerpt:

    With Alabama’s primary election runoffs now in the books, here are three takeaways from the results.

    North Alabama has spoken.
    When this election cycle began, it became evident that north Alabama saw a window of opportunity to increase its influence.  The results from the Republican primary runoff have shown the electorate in that area of the state was eager to flex its muscle.

    Will Ainsworth pulled out an impressive come-from-behind victory in the Lt. Governor’s race. Steve Marshall enjoyed a resounding win in his bid to retain the Attorney General’s office.

  • On Roby’s win: One false media narrative dies, a new one is born

    Excerpt:

    Like Lucy van Pelt of Peanuts comic strip fame repeatedly pulling the football away from Charlie Brown as he lines up to kick it, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) once again has shown you can’t beat her in a Republican primary.

    Similar to when she defeated “Gather Your Armies” Rick Barber in the 2010 GOP primary and “Born Free American Woman” Becky Gerritson in the 2016 GOP primary, Roby defeated former Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright for a second time on Tuesday night, this time by a whopping 36 points.

    Heading into yesterday, many national media reporters were sent into Alabama’s second congressional district looking at the possibility that Roby might have to answer to a revolt for not sticking with then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the infamous Billy Bush weekend during the 2016 presidential campaign.

  • Mo Brooks Wins FreedomWorks’ Prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award

    Excerpt from a Rep. Mo Brooks news release:

    Tuesday, Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) was one of only 31 members of the U.S. House of Representatives awarded the prestigious 2017 FreedomFighter Award by FreedomWorks, a leading conservative organization with more than six million members nationwide. Only members of Congress who score better than 90% on the FreedomWorks scorecard receive the FreedomFighter Award. Congressman Brooks’ FreedomWorks score was in the top 4% of all Congressmen in 2017.

    Brooks said, “FreedomWorks is a leading organization in the conservative movement. I thank them for their work keeping members of Congress accountable and scoring key House floor votes which helps the American people better understand the impact of those votes. I was proud to receive the prestigious FreedomWorks 2017 FreedomFighter Award for my voting record in 2017. If America is to maintain its place as the greatest country in world history, more members of Congress must fight for the foundational principles that made America great. I’m fighting in Congress for those principles, and I’m glad to have a partner as effective as FreedomWorks in the fight.”

2 years ago

‘Treason!’ Alabama Rep. unloads after court blocks proof-of-citizenship voting requirement

Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)
Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)
Alabama State Rep. Jim Patterson (R-Meridianville)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal appeals court has ruled that would-be voters in Alabama will not be required to show proof of U.S. citizenship when using a federal voter registration form. Upon hearing news of the ruling, one state lawmaker had some harsh words for the judges responsible for the decision.

“The two judges that overruled the states should be arrested for treason!” State Rep. Jim Patterson exclaimed in a Facebook post. “They have no clue about the Constitution! This is not about voter rights, it’s about people voting that are not qualified!”

The legal battle over whether would-be voters should be required to show proof of citizenship began when Brian D. Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, granted a request to update the federal voter registration form to include the state’s new photo voter ID requirement.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon denied the first legal challenge to the change, but on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overruled him, granting a preliminary injunction against the proof-of-citizenship requirement because it could cause “irreparable harm” to some would-be voters trying to register prior to the upcoming presidential election.

The Washington Post called the decision a “victory for civil rights groups, Democratic lawyers and the Obama administration” in “their ongoing battle with conservative lawyers and Republican lawmakers over who will be eligible to vote in this year’s presidential contest.”

Rep. Patterson accused opponents of the proof-of-citizenship and voter ID requirements of trying to “steal elections.”

“It’s time for a convention of the states to bring back our Constitution,” he concluded.

RELATED: Scalia’s successor on Supreme Court could decide whether Alabama’s voter ID law survives

In spite of the proof-of-citizenship ruling, Alabama’s photo voter ID law remains in effect, although Democrats across the country continue decrying it as “racist” and “hateful”.

In an October 2015 visit to Hoover, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential nominee insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its Jim Crow past.

RELATED: Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she said. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Before that, Vice President Joe Biden chided supporters of voter ID laws in light of liberal defeat in the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder which stemmed from a legal challenge in Alabama. “These guys never go away,” Biden said. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Since 2008, Republican-controlled legislatures in 17 states have adopted new voting-related laws. Among those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, which passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote. (h/t The Daily Beast)

Conservatives have long argued it is reasonable to require photo voter ID in order to protect the sanctity of elections, particularly because photo ID is also required for any number of other activities, from buying alcohol and opening a bank account, to getting on an airplane and renting a car.

But several lower courts have in recent months agreed with Democrats’ assertion that such laws are discriminatory.

There are currently at least 10 different types of ID that are acceptable to use at the polls (including a driver’s license) and the Secretary of State’s office also offers free Alabama photo voter ID cards and free non-driver IDs for purposes of voting.

1
2 years ago

Scalia’s successor on Supreme Court could decide whether Alabama’s voter ID law survives

(S. Masker/Flickr)
Justice Antonin Scalia (Photo: Wiki Commons)
Justice Antonin Scalia (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Iconic conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s untimely death earlier this year has left the High Court split 4-4 on many contentious issues, increasing the stakes of this year’s presidential election because it could decide the balance of the Court for decades to come.

Among the issues that could ultimately be decided by Scalia’s successor is photo voter ID.

During the 2011 Regular Legislative Session Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) signed a voter ID law that went into full effect for the 2014 primary elections. Act 2011-673 requires an Alabama voter to have a specific type of photo identification at the polls in order to vote. Since that time, Democrats across the country have decried the law as “racist” and “hateful”.

In an October 2015 visit to Hoover, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential nominee insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its Jim Crow past.

RELATED: Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she said. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Before that, Vice President Joe Biden chided supporters of voter ID laws in light of liberal defeat in the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder which stemmed from a legal challenge in Alabama. “These guys never go away,” Biden said. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Since 2008, Republican-controlled legislatures in 17 states have adopted new voting-related laws. Among those are Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, which passed laws requiring a photo ID to vote. (h/t The Daily Beast)

Conservatives have long argued it is reasonable to require photo voter ID in order to protect the sanctity of elections, particularly because photo ID is also required for any number of other activities, from buying alcohol and opening a bank account, to getting on an airplane and renting a car.

But several lower courts have in recent months agreed with Democrats’ assertion that such laws are discriminatory.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in July that North Carolina’s 2013 voting law was implemented with “discriminatory intent.” The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in July that Texas’ photo voter ID law violates that Voting Rights Act.

Marc E. Elias, an attorney representing some of the groups challenging the photo voter ID laws, told the Washington Post this week that they plan to engage in “hand-to-hand combat” in the legal system. And because a tie vote in the U.S. Supreme Court results in the lower court ruling standing, Scalia’s absence on the bench is allowing Mr. Elias in his allies to rack up victories in the short term.

If a Democrat is elected president, Mr. Scalia’s successor could lock in such victories for the longterm.

RELATED: Democrats call Alabama’s voter ID law ‘racist’ but require DNC delegates to show ID to vote

For the time being, Alabama’s photo voter ID law is an effect, and recent voting suggests it has not suppressed turnout.

There are currently at least 10 different types of ID that are acceptable to use at the polls (including a driver’s license) and the Secretary of State’s office also offers free Alabama photo voter ID cards and free non-driver IDs for purposes of voting.

1
2 years ago

State of Alabama invited a woman who died in 1999 to register to vote

(Photo: Flickr)
(Photo: Flickr)

MOBILE, Ala. — The State of Alabama recently sent a letter to a Mobile woman who died in 1999, inviting her to register to vote in the upcoming November elections.

“You are receiving this mailing because our records indicate that you MIGHT not be registered to vote,” the mailer read, according to local Fox affiliate WALA.

“The notice included a mail-in voter registration form and instructions to return it to her local Board of Registrars,” wrote Fox 10 anchor Bob Grip.

The deceased woman’s daughter alerted the local news to the mailer because she was concerned other recipients may attempt to use the form to commit voter fraud.

Mr. Grip brought the issue to the attention of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who said his office is engaging in a large scale voter registration drive that relies on the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Driver’s License database.

“My office is undertaking a project to identify a large number of Alabamians that are eligible but unregistered to vote,” Merrill explained. “This project utilizes our voter registration information and compares it against a database of Alabamians with a Driver’s License. This allows us to see anyone that would already had a license but may not have previously had the opportunity to register to vote. I apologize for any confusion that this may have caused for your viewer but if you would have them forward the name and address of the individual, we will make sure we identify her to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency so they can update their records.”

During the 2011 Regular Legislative Session Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.) signed a voter ID law that went into full effect for the 2014 primary elections. Act 2011-673 requires an Alabama voter to have a specific type of photo identification at the polls in order to vote. Since that time, Democrats across the country have decried the law as “racist” and “hateful”.

The 2016 Democratic Party platform declares, “we will continue to fight against discriminatory voter identification laws, which disproportionately burden young voters, diverse communities, people of color, low income families, people with disabilities, the elderly, and women.”

The Party did, however, require delegates to the Democratic National Committee to show photo ID before they were allowed to vote.

In an October 2015 visit to Hoover, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential nominee insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its Jim Crow past.

RELATED: Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she said. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Before that, Vice President Joe Biden chided supporters of voter ID laws in light of liberal defeat in the Supreme Court case of Shelby County v. Holder which stemmed from a legal challenge in Alabama. “These guys never go away,” Biden said. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Shelby County, Ala. sued the U.S. Attorney General in 2011 claiming that portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the formula used to determine which areas were subjected to pre-clearance was unconstitutional, effectively gutting that portion of the law.

“Alabama has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years, and this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that progress,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said at the time. “We will not tolerate discrimination in Alabama.”

Despite calls of racism, Alabama’s implementation of the voter ID law does not seem to have suppressed turnout.

There are currently at least 10 different types of ID that are acceptable to use at the polls (including a driver’s license) and the Secretary of State’s office also offers free Alabama photo voter ID cards and free non-driver IDs for purposes of voting.

(h/t Fox 10)

1
2 years ago

In the wake of Brexit, Alabama congressman wants U.S. to exit U.N.

Alabama congressman Mike Rogers wants the United States to exit the United Nations.
Alabama congressman Mike Rogers wants the United States to exit the United Nations.

WASHINGTON — The pro-nationalist, anti-globalist sentiment is spreading in the wake of Brexit, the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union (EU), and one Alabama congressman is hoping it could spur the United States toward exiting the United Nations (UN).

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL3) has long been one of the most vocal opponents of the UN and recently laid out his major issues with the multi-national organization in the following statement:

The United States’ participation with the United Nations (U.N.) should end immediately. The U.N. continues to prove it’s an inefficient bureaucracy and a complete waste of American tax dollars.

Although the United States makes up almost a quarter of the U.N.’s annual budget, the U.N. has attempted a number of actions that attack our rights as U.S. citizens.

To name a few, these initiatives include actions like the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would subject our country to internationally-based environmental mandates, costing American businesses more money, or the U.N.’s work to re-establish an international regulation regime on global warming which would heavily target our fossil fuels.

The U.N. has also offered a potential Arms Trade Treaty which would threaten our Second Amendment rights and impose regulations on our gun manufacturers, who are already facing regulations and pressure from the Obama Administration.

Lastly, the U.N. does not support Israel and voted to grant the Palestinian Authority “non-member state” permanent observer status.

For some UN officials, the feelings of disdain are mutual.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement late last year blasting the State of Alabama — and the United States more broadly — for its record on women’s and immigrants’ rights.

According to the UN, the organization sent a three-member delegation to Alabama, Oregon and Texas last year at the invitation of the United States government.

The leader of the delegation was feminist college professor Frances Raday, Chair of the Israeli Association of Feminist and Gender Studies and Vice-Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Discrimination Against Women.

“We acknowledge the United States’ commitment to liberty, so well represented by the Statue of Liberty which symbolizes both womanhood and freedom,” said Raday. “Nevertheless, in global context, US women do not take their rightful place as citizens of the world’s leading economy, which has one of the highest rates of per capita income. In the US, women fall behind international standards as regards their public and political representation, their economic and social rights and their health and safety protections.”

Among the delegation’s specific criticisms of Alabama is the state’s photo voter ID law, which it claims is discriminatory toward women.

“Our group is concerned that changes in voter identification laws, such as those in Alabama, which increase bureaucratic requirements for voter identification, in particular problematic for women who change their name in marriage and reduce the number of voting centers, can make registration and voting less accessible for the poor, of whom a majority are women,” Raday said in a somewhat difficult-to-follow sentence.

The UN delegation also bemoaned the state of “women’s reproductive rights” in Alabama, saying there are a lack of abortion providers and “many of the clinics work in conditions of constant threats, harassment and vandalising (sic), too often without any kind of protection measures by law enforcement officials.” Raday also said Alabama has “a history of severe violence against abortion providers.”

Raday concluded the UN delegation’s criticisms of Alabama by claiming the state discriminates against immigrations by not allowing them to enroll in Medicaid.

“According to various stakeholders we met… Alabama (does) not allow lawfully residing immigrants to enroll in Medicaid even after completion of the federal waiting period of five years,” she said. A spokesperson for Medicaid did not immediately return Yellowhammer’s request for comment. The UN group also criticized the United States a whole for not providing government healthcare to all of its citizens.

The United Nations’ criticisms of the United States are nothing new, but still may come as a surprise considering the US is by far the UN’s largest funder, contributing 22 percent of the organization’s total budget, the maximum allowed under its bylaws. The US also funds over 28 percent of the UN’s “peacekeeping budget,” which has over 80,000 troops deployed worldwide.

Congressman Rogers’ frustrations with the U.N. led him to introduce H.R. 1205, the American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2015, which he said would “end country’s participation in the U.N. and any organizations affiliated with them.”

“Why should the American taxpayer bankroll an international organization that works against America’s interests around the world?” Rogers asked rhetorically. “The time is now to restore and protect American sovereignty and get out of the United Nations.”

1
3 years ago

The 15 events that defined Alabama politics in 2015

2015 Year in Review Alabama Politics

2015 was a wild year in Alabama politics.

A reality television star drew tens of thousands of Alabamians to his presidential campaign rallies.

A sitting governor got divorced. A sitting Speaker’s political career survived an entire year under indictment.

Same-sex weddings took place at courthouses around the state. Taxes were raised. The Confederate Battle Flag was lowered. Refugees were rejected. And a football program was resurrected.

Here are–in no particular order–the 15 events that defined a tumultuous year in Alabama politics.

Governor Bentley’s State of the State address

Gov. Robert Bentley delivers the 2015 State of the State Address, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in the Old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. (Photo: Governor's Office, Jamie Martin)
Gov. Robert Bentley delivers the 2015 State of the State Address, Tuesday, March 3, 2015, in the Old House Chamber of the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. (Photo: Governor’s Office, Jamie Martin)

Whether it was politics or his personal life, 2015 was by far the most turbulent year of Dr. Robert Bentley’s tenure as Alabama governor.

After securing re-election in November of 2014, Bentley tacked left on a variety of issues, from taxes to government healthcare, and ruffled some feathers by ordering the Confederate battle flag removed from the Capitol grounds. In August, his wife announced she was leaving him after 50 years of marriage.

The moment that telegraphed what Alabamians could expect from their chief executive in 2015 came in early March when Bentley delivered his annual State of the State Address.

He demanded companies “pay their fair share” and gave a full throated defense of his plan to raise taxes by $541 million. He also hinted at expanding Medicaid, a move that many on Goat Hill expect to come in 2016.

Same-sex marriage comes to Alabama

Flickr User wenzday01
Flickr User wenzday01

A federal judge in January issued a ruling striking down Alabama’s constitutional ban on gay marriage on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

The ruling was put on hold while the United States Supreme Court debated same-sex marriage. The High Court ultimately struck down same-sex marriage bans across the country, effectively creating a constitutional right to marriage and prompting several Alabama counties to exit the marriage business all together.

The religious liberty implications of the ruling are still a hot-button issue that won’t be resolved for years to come.

Hubbard survives another year on top

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn)

It is a testament to Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s (R-Auburn) sheer tenacity that he remains the Speaker 14 months after being indicted on 23 counts of felony public corruption.

His power, once unrivaled in state government, is somewhat diminished. He is no longer able to bend the legislature to his will. But in spite of being openly challenged for the gavel for the first time, his position appears to be secure for now.

Hubbard’s long-anticipated trial is scheduled to take place next year. The outcome will shape Alabama’s political landscape for years — perhaps decades — to come.

Trumpapalooza

Senator Jeff Sessions dons a "Make America Great Again" hat at Donald Trump's Mobile rally.
Senator Jeff Sessions dons a “Make America Great Again” hat at Donald Trump’s Mobile rally.

In what the Washington Post described as “something between a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert and the Daytona 500,” Alabama became the center of the political universe for one night in August when Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 touched down in Mobile.

Tens of thousands of Trump supporters flocked to Ladd-Peebles Stadium for what many believe was the largest event to that point in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

The event had national significance, signaling that Trump’s unexpected rise in the polls could be buttressed by legitimate support on the ground. It also elevated Senator Jeff Sessions’ national profile. Alabama’s junior senator appeared on stage with Trump, and the billionaire real estate mogul adopted his immigration and trade positions just days later.

But the event was about more than a single night — or even a single candidate. Trumpapalooza established Alabama as a must-visit state for serious presidential contenders, thanks to the SEC Primary.

Since then, Senator Marco Rubio, Senator Ted Cruz, famed neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and others have all made a serious play to compete and win in Alabama.

Syrian refugees refused

Hundreds of Syrian refugees waiting for the next train in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Josh Zakary)
Hundreds of Syrian refugees waiting for the next train in Vienna, Austria (Photo: Josh Zakary)

Governor Bentley in mid-November became the second governor in America to announce his administration would refuse to accept Syrian refugees.

He later signed an executive order directing state agencies to utilize “all lawful means necessary” to prevent the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the state.

The Bentley administration and the White House have been at odds over whether Bentley — or any governor — has the authority to issue such an order. But to this point, no refugees have been sent to Alabama.

Confederate flag toppled

Confederate Battle Flag
Governor Bentley ordered the Confederate Battle Flag removed from the Capitol grounds the morning of June 24th, sparking a backlash among many Alabamians who consider the flag to be a part of the state’s history that should not be erased.

Bentley said his order was partially in response to the Charleston church shooting, but more about doing the “right thing.” It also undoubtedly had a lot to do with Alabama’s economic development efforts, which some state leaders worried could be damaged if they resisted the national push to eradicate the flag in a symbolic gesture after the Charleston tragedy.

Bentley breaths life back into the gambling industry

(Photo: Flickr user Dallas1200am)
(Photo: Flickr user Dallas1200am)

Alabama’s anti-gambling movement, propelled by the state’s large swath of evangelical Christians, considered Governor Bentley an ally until last month when he stripped the Attorney General’s office of the power to enforce gambling laws and paved the way for VictoryLand to reopen.

It had been a rough year for pro-gambling interests prior to that moment. A push to expand casino gambling in the state failed along with the annual push for a lottery, and Senator Del Marsh (R-Anniston), the state’s most powerful lawmaker and a gambling supporter, said he would not reintroduce gaming legislation in 2016.

It is still hard to imagine casino gambling legislation passing, but with another budget crunch on the horizon, the lottery could once again get serious consideration.

The leader of an interdenominational organization that lobbies the Alabama legislature on behalf of the Christian community issued a stern warning earlier this month: “Illegal gambling is taking over this state.”

Gang of Nine emerges in Alabama Senate

TOP (from left): Sens. Rusty Glober, Bill Holtzclaw, Clay Scofield, Paul Bussman and Paul Sanford. BOTTOM (fromt left): Sens. Bill Hightower, Shay Shelnutt, Slade Blackwell and Phil Williams.
TOP (from left): Sens. Rusty Glober, Bill Holtzclaw, Clay Scofield, Paul Bussman and Paul Sanford. BOTTOM (fromt left): Sens. Bill Hightower, Shay Shelnutt, Slade Blackwell and Phil Williams.

The Alabama Legislature raised taxes by roughly $100 million in 2015, far less than Governor Bentley pushed for, but enough that it sparked contentious debates over three grueling legislative sessions.

The majority of the Legislature ultimately supported a package that combined three tax increases with two measures aimed at reforming the state’s dysfunctional budgeting process. But while the majority of lawmakers viewed combining reforms with tax increases as a palatable compromise, a group of nine staunchly conservative senators refused to bend, consistently voting “no” and sometimes launching into filibusters of tax bills backed by their own party.

The “Gang of Nine,” as they became known, probably did not win a lot of friends on Goat Hill, but they undoubtedly kept the tax burden on Alabamians from increasing much further than it did. If they continue to stick together, they will continue to be a powerful bloc in the Senate.

PSC drops energy rates in spite of increased federal regulations

Public Service Commission Jeremy Oden, Commissioner President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Commissioner Chris "Chip" Beeker
Public Service Commission Jeremy Oden, Commissioner President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Commissioner Chris “Chip” Beeker

The Alabama Public Service Commission led by PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh in early December secured a rate reduction for Alabama Power and Alagasco customers, in spite of increasing costs the companies continue to incur due to federal environmental mandates.

A drop in the price of coal and natural gas made it possible for Alabama Power to offset some of their regulatory costs this year, compelling the PSC to push for a 2 percent reduction in the retail cost of electricity through 2016. Alabama Power expects to return an estimated $120 million to customers through the end of next year.

The move was a crippling blow the state’s environmentalist movement, which had previously cloaked its anti-coal agenda in pro-consumer rhetoric. The environmentalist’s “favorite Republican” is running for a slot on the PSC again in 2016, nonetheless.

Jeff Sessions endorses Richard Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby (left) and Jeff Sessions (right)
Sen. Richard Shelby (left) and Jeff Sessions (right)

With the anti-incumbent sentiment at an all-time high, longtime U.S. Senator Richard Shelby drew four primary challengers in his bid for a sixth term.

But as quick as the campaign started, Shelby got a boost from his colleague Jeff Sessions, whose credibility among grassroots conservatives is unmatched.

Sessions’ endorsement effectively chopped the legs off of rival campaigns, who were yet to even have the opportunity to make their case that conservatives should rally behind an alternative. Conservative columnist Quin Hillyer told liberal political blog al.com he believes Sessions is so popular in Alabama that an endorsement from him would mean a six-point bump in the Yellowhammer State for a presidential candidate.

The race will undoubtedly heat up in January as voters start paying attention and ad dollars start to fly, but the state’s most trusted conservative has already weighed in, and there’s no amount of money that could buy that kind of street cred.

AUE quietly enters the scene

University of Alabama System Chancellor Dr. Robert Witt
University of Alabama System Chancellor Dr. Robert Witt

A coalition of education leaders in early December announced the formation of Alabama Unites for Education (AUE), an advocacy group that appears poised to fill the void left by the precipitous decline of the Alabama Education Association (AEA).

The most significant policy debates in the coming years will likely center around what to do about the state’s ever-expanding General Fund Budget, which threatens to devour more and more education funding.

With AUE, the education community will have a powerful voice in the debate, without all of the baggage and nefarious tactics of the AEA.

The photo voter ID battle rages on

A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)

After the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced it would close down 31 rural drivers license offices due to budget cuts, voting rights activists cried foul and accused Alabama of trying to limit minority citizens’ access to photo ID, which is required to vote.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund sued the state, insisting that requiring voters to show photo ID is “discriminatory” and would disenfranchise over 250,000 Alabamians, many of them black and latino, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Even Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders weighed in on the issue, while Republicans dismissed the claims and noted that all 67 Alabama counties have a Board of Registrars that issues photo voter I.D. cards for free.

UAB football returns

UAB Football Team celebrates early in the 2014 season (Photo: Shanna Lockwood)
UAB Football Team celebrates early in the 2014 season (Photo: Shanna Lockwood)

In December of 2014, the University of Alabama-Birmingham announced it was shuttering its football program, becoming the first Division 1 school to make that decision since Pacific did so in 1995.

Six months later, in a stunning reversal, the school announced the program was coming back. Five months after that, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees announced its support for UAB to build a $12-15 million football operations facility. This month the school released a list of the first 19 players it has committed to play in 2017.

The UAB football revival has been viewed as an enormous positive for the university and the local community, but the political implications are significant as well.

Had the UA Board of Trustees and the UAB football advocates not found common ground, the effects would have rippled throughout the coming year’s legislative session.

BP settlement finalized

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange in October announced the state’s final settlement with BP concerning the damages caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The agreement is set to bring approximately $2 billion dollars to Alabama in reparation for the economic and environmental damages resulting from the spill.

But not everyone was happy with the deal. Some Gulf Coast lawmakers expressed their frustration at how that money will be appropriated.

“The settlement is severely flawed because it puts too much money under control of the federal and state governments,” said Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1). “A better settlement would have directed more money into the RESTORE Act process and allowed our coastal communities to decide how the money should be spent.”

“We need the state Legislature to remember two facts,” added Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson. “One is that there were real economic and environmental consequences from the oil spill which continue to this day. The second is that our region is a tremendous economic engine for the entire state. Returning more of the settlement to coastal Alabama is not only the right thing to do, but it is also good common sense.”

Public pension reform picks up steam

Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner (Photo: Wikicommons)
Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner (Photo: Wikicommons)

Public pension reforms have received off-and-on interest from the Alabama legislature over the years, but momentum for reform picked up significant speed in 2015.

The renewed interest is thanks in part to math — the pension system is underfunded and taxpayers are sending to it almost $1 billion per year — and partly because Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) CEO David Bronner has infuriated conservatives in the Republican-controlled legislature.

Bronner was caught on camera in October reciting a lengthy list of foul-mouthed grievances with the citizens of Alabama and their elected representatives. His most stinging criticisms were reserved for conservative Alabamians, who he believes are irrationally opposed to higher taxes and expanding government healthcare programs.

Bronner has enjoyed a four-decade run as one of the most powerful men in state politics. But if major RSA reforms are advanced in 2016, 2015 may be remembered as the year his ego finally caught up to him.

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3 years ago

United Nations goes on anti-Alabama tirade partially funded by American taxpayers

Alabama United Nations

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement Friday blasting the State of Alabama — and the United States more broadly — for its record on women’s and immigrants’ rights.

According to the UN, the organization sent a three-member delegation to Alabama, Oregon and Texas earlier this month at the invitation of the United States government.

The leader of the delegation was feminist college professor Frances Raday, Chair of the Israeli Association of Feminist and Gender Studies and Vice-Chair of the UN Human Rights Council Working Group on Discrimination Against Women.

“In its greatly appreciated invitation to our expert group, the United States opened the door to a frank interchange regarding both good practices and gaps in US women’s enjoyment of international human rights,” said Raday. “We acknowledge the United States’ commitment to liberty, so well represented by the Statue of Liberty which symbolizes both womanhood and freedom. Nevertheless, in global context, US women do not take their rightful place as citizens of the world’s leading economy, which has one of the highest rates of per capita income. In the US, women fall behind international standards as regards their public and political representation, their economic and social rights and their health and safety protections.”

Among the delegation’s specific criticisms of Alabama is the state’s photo voter ID law, which it claims is discriminatory toward women.

“Our group is concerned that changes in voter identification laws, such as those in Alabama, which increase bureaucratic requirements for voter identification, in particular problematic for women who change their name in marriage and reduce the number of voting centers, can make registration and voting less accessible for the poor, of whom a majority are women,” Raday said in a somewhat difficult-to-follow sentence.

The UN’s criticisms come just over a week after the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit in Federal court challenging Alabama’s photo voter ID law. The suit claims requiring voters to show photo ID disenfranchises over 250,000 Alabamians, many of them black and latino, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill rejected the suit offhand, saying photo voter I.D. is in no way a barrier to voting, much less discriminatory.

“We want to make it real easy to vote and real hard to cheat,” Secretary Merrill said in a statement. “As of today, there have been no credible reports of a lack of ability for someone to cast their vote because of this law.”

The UN delegation also bemoaned the state of “women’s reproductive rights” in Alabama, saying there are a lack of abortion providers and “many of the clinics work in conditions of constant threats, harassment and vandalising (sic), too often without any kind of protection measures by law enforcement officials.” Raday also said Alabama has “a history of severe violence against abortion providers.”

Raday concluded the UN delegation’s criticisms of Alabama by claiming the state discriminates against immigrations by not allowing them to enroll in Medicaid.

“According to various stakeholders we met… Alabama (does) not allow lawfully residing immigrants to enroll in Medicaid even after completion of the federal waiting period of five years,” she said. A spokesperson for Medicaid did not immediately return Yellowhammer’s request for comment. The UN group also criticized the United States a whole for not providing government healthcare to all of its citizens.

The United Nations’ criticisms of the United States are nothing new, but still may come as a surprise considering the US is by far the UN’s largest funder, contributing 22 percent of the organization’s total budget, the maximum allowed under its bylaws. The US also funds over 28 percent of the UN’s “peacekeeping budget,” which has over 80,000 troops deployed worldwide.

Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL3) has been among the UN’s loudest critics, even sponsoring a bill that would end America’s participation in the organization or any group associated with it.

“The U.N. continues to prove it’s an inefficient bureaucracy and a complete waste of American tax dollars,” said Rogers. “Although the United States makes up almost a quarter of the U.N.’s annual budget, the U.N. has attempted a number of actions that attack our rights as U.S. citizens.”

Rogers specifically mentioned the UN’s climate agenda, its anti-Second Amendment policies and its history of anti-Israel stances.

“Why should the American taxpayer bankroll an international organization that works against America’s interests around the world?” asked Rogers. “The time is now to restore and protect American sovereignty and get out of the United Nations.”

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3 years ago

Liberals don’t think minority voters in Alabama have the capacity to get a free ID (opinion)

A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Federal court challenging Alabama’s photo voter I.D. law. The suit, which was filed on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama NAACP, claims requiring voters to show photo ID is “discriminatory” and would disenfranchise over 250,000 Alabamians, many of them black and latino, in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A quick Google search for the definition of the word “discriminatory” brings this back:

Discriminatory (adjective): Making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Discrimination, by its very definition, means treating groups of people differently from one another, which begs the question, how can it possibly be discriminatory to pass a law that applies equally to everyone? The answer, of course, is that it cannot, as long as the law does not place an “undue burden” on a certain group’s fundamental rights.

Many liberals insist that expecting people to prove they are who they say they are before they exercise democracy’s most sacred right — the right to vote — places an undue burden on poor people, many of them minorities.

More on that specifically in a moment, but let us first consider something deeper that is at play here — a presidential speechwriter once referred to it as “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”

This phrase has become one of the rallying cries for the school choice movement in America, which insists upon high achievement in every school, regardless of the racial or socioeconomic makeup of its student body.

People have a tendency to believe they are who other people say they are. For example, if students are told they should be happy with “just passing” because they come from a difficult situation, most of those children will accept that as their reality. But if those same students are told they are as talented and capable as any other students out there, and therefore should strive to be “A” students, they will more often than not rise to meet those expectations. This is sometimes as simple as a single teacher taking the time to mentor and encourage a student, but more often than not it requires immersing kids in an academic culture of high expectations.

Just take for example Brooklyn College Academy in New York City, where 100 percent of the school’s inner-city black students graduated on time in 2015, while the overall graduation rate for black males in NYC was 58 percent. The name of the school itself sets the tone. It’s a college academy. The students immediately, even if subconsciously, understand what is expected of them. The result is that the overwhelming majority of BCA’s students do indeed go on to college and ultimately on to successful careers.

That may have seemed like a digression, but it is directly related to the issue at hand. Hold on to your hats, because the PC Police are not going to like this one:

It is bigoted to suggest that minorities and lower-income individuals are somehow less capable of acquiring a free photo voter I.D. than everyone else.

This is the aforementioned soft bigotry of low expectations that liberals have so often thrived on, even before the litany of so called “Great Society” programs trapped generations of America’s poor in a dignity-robbing cycle of dependency. It is the soft bigotry of low-character faux “reverends” who traverse the country claiming to speak on behalf of minorities. And it is the soft bigotry of many Democratic politicians, who hold themselves up to be the champions of the very people whose lives they have spectacularly failed to improve for decades.

Here are some facts:

To vote in Alabama, individuals must show a photo ID. This could include a drivers license, non-driver ID, State or Federal-issued ID, US Passport, government employee ID, student ID from a public or private Alabama college, military ID, tribal ID, or, if none of those are accessible, a free photo voter ID provided by the state.

To acquire a free ID, citizens can go to their local Board of Registrars office; there is one located in every one of Alabama’s 67 counties. Additionally, the Secretary of State’s office has visited every county with a mobile photo voter ID van in an effort to reach people right in their neighborhoods.

If people cannot acquire one of these IDs at any point in a four-year period, how on Earth are they going to make it to the polls on Election Day?

Here is another fact: Data shows that voter ID laws have not had any discernible effect on voter turnout.

If that surprises you, do you also get surprised when you see someone driving a car? Because you need a photo ID for that. What about when they buy tobacco products? You need an ID for that, too. How about when someone buys a gun, or certain types of cold medicines, or gets on an airplane, or opens a bank account, or adopts a pet, of purchases alcohol, or applies for Social Security, Medicaid or welfare, or rents a house, or applies for a mortgage, or donates blood, or purchases nail polish at CVS? Every one of those actions requires a photo ID.

Conservatives believe in the capacity of every individual — regardless of their race or socioeconomic status — to do all of the things mentioned above, including acquire a photo ID to vote. Many liberals apparently do not.

And yet we’re the racists?


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3 years ago

Bentley and Clinton spar over whether Alabama Republicans are racists

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

HOOVER, Ala. — Speaking to the predominantly black Alabama Democratic Conference on Friday, Hillary Clinton slammed Alabama Republicans for requiring proof of citizenship to vote and for shuttering driver’s license offices in the wake of state budget cuts. The Democratic presidential frontrunner insisted that both issues were examples of Republicans trying to return Alabama to its “Jim Crow past.”

“This is wrong,” Clinton said. “Fifty years after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and John Lewis bled, it is hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether or not every American gets a chance to vote and exercise his rights.

“We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote,” she continued. “No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote.”

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley pushed back against Clinton’s claims, suggesting the former secretary of state is promoting a false racial narrative in an effort to advance her personal political agenda.

“It seems Mrs. Clinton isn’t as well versed in Alabama’s budgeting process as she is in exploiting a situation for her personal political gain,” Bentley said. “If she were, she would know the closure of 31 Alabama Driver’s License offices is based on a shortfall in funds appropriated by the state Legislature to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. To claim this decision is based on race is absolutely not true. Suggesting otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda, an area where Mrs. Clinton has often clearly demonstrated her expertise.”

Alabama’s photo voter ID law, which requires voters to present any one of fifteen forms of valid identification, went into effect in 2014.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has assured voters his office will work tirelessly to provide free voter IDs across the state, with a special focus on those counties now without a satellite license office.

“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.”

The state government’s efforts have not, however, stopped Democrats both inside and outside of Alabama from seizing the opportunity to make a political statement.

U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama’s lone Democratic congressional representative, even called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Bentley administration’s decision to shutter rural DMVs.

“My office sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch calling for a full, and thorough investigation into the decision to close 31 driver’s license offices across Alabama,” Sewell said last week. “This ill-conceived decision left 8 out of the 14 counties in my district – which is the only majority minority district in the state – without a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to issue an Alabama driver’s license. The real issue here is about access. Closing these license offices will severely limit access to the most popular form of photo identification used in voting – a state issued driver’s license.”

Jesse Jackson also flew into the state and called Alabama “disgraceful.”

Gov. Bentley dismissed the criticism and said Mrs. Clinton in particular should focus on issues she would actually have to deal with if she became President.

“Alabama will continue to work toward solutions to solve our budget shortfalls,” he said. “Meanwhile Mrs. Clinton can work to solve our country’s $18 Trillion deficit, in the unfortunate event she is elected President.”

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4 years ago

Alabama Republican Party offers $1,000 for proof of voter fraud

Voting Booths

The Alabama Republican Party has decided to up the ante when it comes to their ballot security operation. The ALGOP announced today that they are offering $1,000 to anyone who can provide information that directly leads to a felony conviction for voter fraud.

“‘Reward Stop Voter Fraud’ signs with our hotline number will be placed at random polling locations tomorrow and at all polling locations in November,” ALGOP Chairman Bill Armistead explained. “Poll watchers trained by ALGOP staff will also be watching to ensure that Alabama’s election laws – including the new photo voter ID law – are not being violated. Our signs and poll watchers will send a clear message to those wishing to commit voter fraud. Anyone attempting to tamper with the election process will be caught and will be prosecuted.”

Signs touting the "Stop Voter Fraud Hotline" will be placed throughout Alabama polling places.
Signs touting the “Stop Voter Fraud Hotline” will be placed throughout Alabama polling places.

Tuesday’s elections are the first in which Alabama voters must show a photo ID to receive a ballot.

Numerous types of photo IDs can be used, including an Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, college ID, military ID, government employee ID, federal ID or passport. However, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said in March that roughly 250,000 adults in the state did not at that time have any form of photo identification. Those individuals were given the opportunity to a acquire a free voter ID supplied by the state.

Liberals continue to say voter ID laws are an assault on the voting rights of minorities, while conservatives say its a necessary step to ensure the sanctity of elections.


RELATED: The debate over photo voter ID rages on as Alabama’s law goes into effect


Vice President Joe Biden went as far as to say that there is “hatred” behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

The Bentley Administration responded, saying that Alabama has made great progress in recent years and assured voters that they “will not tolerate discrimination in Alabama.”

True The Vote, a national organization dedicated to maintaining the integrity of U.S. elections, released some startling statistics about voter fraud recently:

  • More than 24 million voter registrations are invalid yet remain on the rolls nationally
  • More than 1.8 million dead voters are still on the rolls nationally
  • More than 2.75 million Americans are registered to vote in more than one state

Additionally, we recently learned that four counties in Alabama had more registered voters than total population.

“Every voter should be on the alert and watch for voter fraud tomorrow,” said Armistead. “Some of the most common violations include: not showing proper photo ID; voter solicitation within 30 feet of polling locations; passing out campaign literature or marked sample ballots within 30 feet of polling locations; poll worker voter intimidation and misinformation; vote buying; ballot stuffing; recording votes incorrectly; destruction or invalidation of ballots; and tampering with voting machines.”

He encouraged anyone who witnesses an instance of voter fraud to contact the voter fraud hotline at 844-AL-FRAUD (844-253-7283).


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

Three Alabama women accused of felony voter fraud

(Photo: Flickr)
(Photo: Flickr)

Three Dothan, Ala. women are facing a combined 560 years in prison if they are convicted and given the maximum sentence for 56 counts of felony voter fraud.

Olivia Lee Reynolds, 65, Lesa Renee Coleman, 49, and Janice Lee Hart, 63, were arrested late last week following an investigation into irregularities in the City of Dothan elections that took place last August.

Houston Co. Sheriff Andy Hughes said his office investigated a voter fraud complaint and found that the three women had created false ballots, filled them out and cast them in an attempt to sway the elections.

It appears that their efforts may have affected the results of at least one race on the ballot.

According to WTVY, “These arrests come after the Houston County Sheriff’s Office conducted 96 interviews in the wake of the August 6th Election. The results of that election were called into question, after Amos Newsome narrowly beat Lamesa Danzey to retain his Dothan City Commission District 2 seat.”

119 of the 124 (96%) absentee ballots cast in the election were for Newsome, who edged out Danzey by a total vote count of 362 to 348 (51% – 49%).

Reyonolds faces 26 counts of felony voter fraud, Coleman faces 20 counts and Hart 10. Each count carries with it a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

The charges come at a time when the State of Alabama is gearing up to implement its controversial new voter ID law.


RELATED: Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law


Republicans delivered on a campaign promise in 2011 by passing a law requiring Alabama voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote. The law finally goes into effect for this year’s primary elections, which are set to take place June 3.

Numerous types of photo IDs can be used by voters, including an Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, college ID, military ID, government employee ID, federal ID or passport. However, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said in March that they believe as many as 250,000 adults in the state do not currently have any form of photo identification.

For individuals without a photo ID, the State of Alabama is offering a free voter ID, which can be obtained at any local county board of registrars’ or Dept. of Public Safety office or at the secretary of state’s headquarters in Montgomery. Forms of non-photo ID that can be used to obtain a free photo ID include most IDs with a person’s full legal name and date of birth. Fishing and hunting licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage records, military records, Medicaid and Medicare documents and school transcripts are all acceptable.

Vans from the secretary of state’s office have also been fanning out across the state to deliver IDs to individuals who cannot make it to the local offices.

But even as Alabama’s photo ID law goes into effect, the national debate surrounding voter ID rages on.

Liberals continue to say voter ID laws are an assault on the voting rights of minorities.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.

“These guys never go away,” Vice President Joe Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Meanwhile, conservatives say photo voter ID is a necessary step to ensure the sanctity of elections, although it likely would not have been helpful in Dothan where individuals took advantage of the absentee ballot process.

Do you support Alabama’s new voter ID law? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @YHPolitics.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

The debate over photo voter ID rages on as Alabama’s law goes into effect

Voting Booths

Republicans delivered on a campaign promise in 2011 by passing a law requiring Alabama voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote. The law finally goes into effect for this year’s primary elections, which are set to take place June 3.

Numerous types of photo IDs can be used by voters, including an Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, college ID, military ID, government employee ID, federal ID or passport. However, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said today that they believe roughly 250,000 adults in the state do not currently have any form of photo identification.

For those folks, the State of Alabama is offering a free voter ID, which can be obtained at any local county board of registrars’ or Dept. of Public Safety office or at the secretary of state’s headquarters in Montgomery. Forms of non-photo ID that can be used to obtain a free photo ID include most IDs with a person’s full legal name and date of birth. Fishing and hunting licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage records, military records, Medicaid and Medicare documents and school transcripts are all acceptable.

Vans from the secretary of state’s office will also be fanning out across the state in the coming weeks to deliver IDs to individuals who cannot make it to the local offices. A schedule for the van deployments will be released in the days ahead.

But even as Alabama’s photo ID law goes into effect, the national debate surrounding the politics behind voter ID rages on.

Liberals continue to say voter ID laws are an assault on the voting rights of minorities, while conservatives say its a necessary step to ensure the sanctity of elections.

Here’s a brief timeline of some notable voter-ID related events that have taken place over the last couple of years.

• On June 10, 2011, the Alabama legislature on the final day of the 2011 session passed a law requiring Alabamians to show photo ID at the polls before voting.

• On March 5, 2012, a large crowd of Alabamians led by MSNBC pundit and renowned race baiter Al Sharpton protested the voter ID law.

“How do you justify Alabama’s new voter laws when widespread fraud just doesn’t exist?” Sharpton asked Republican State Rep. Jay Love.

“Well, I’ll disagree with you, in the last three years, we’ve had three people convicted of voter fraud in Alabama,” Love responded.

“Thousands of those people can’t vote because of three people in the last three years?” Sharpton shot back. “Because they don`t have state ID, they don’t drive, they don’t have passports. They will not be able to vote.”

Love rebutted, “I don’t know of anybody that will be denied the right to vote. And we provide a free state ID in Alabama for those individuals that don’t have a driver’s license.”

• On March 12, 2012, the US Justice Department blocked a photo ID law from going into effect in Texas.

“There is no proof that our elections are marred by in-person voter fraud,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.

• On April 9, 2012, James O’Keefe, a conservative activists well known for his unique brand hidden-camera journalism, posted a video proving he could easily get poll workers to give him ballots for political celebrities.

“You’re on our list and that’s who you say you are — so you’re ok,” a polling work told O’Keefe as he attempted to vote as “Eric Holder.”

• On August 28, 2012, 1,431 votes were cast in a municipal election in Uniontown, Ala., which only had 1,140 people over the age of 18 living in the town at the time.

When asked by the Tuscaloosa News about the number of registered voters compared with the town’s population, the Uniontown city clerk and election manager replied, “I haven’t given it a thought.”

• On June 17, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled that states cannot require proof of citizenship for an individual to be added to the voter rolls.

“[This] Court ruling marks an important victory for voters… across the nation whose right to vote has been under attack with discriminatory voter identification laws that have been enacted in states like Arizona, Alabama and Georgia,” U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, D-AL07, said in a statement after the ruling.

• But barely a week later, On June 25, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled Section 4 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act unconstitutional in Shelby County v. Holder. That ruling freed from federal oversight states that previously had to have changes to their voting laws cleared by the US Justice Department, effectively ending the Obama DOJ’s fight against state voter ID laws.

“The Alabama of today is vastly different than the one of a half century ago, and the time for us to be freed from the burden of federal oversight is long overdue,” Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said in reaction to the Court’s ruling. “Today’s ruling clearly states that our constitutional rights as Alabamians take precedence over the wants and whims of liberal Justice Department bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. Starting today, Alabama will be able determine its own destiny when it comes to campaigns, elections and voting procedures in our state.”

• On Feb. 25, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

What do you think? Are voter ID laws needed in Alabama, or are the discriminatory?

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

10 things you can’t do without photo ID

I voted twice

As Yellowhammer reported this morning, liberals continue to deride Voter ID laws, calling them everything from racist to classist and sexist. Never mind that in addition to keeping our voting process as fraud free as possible, the law also offers anyone who needs a valid ID to vote the opportunity to get one for F-R-E-E

dobby gif

But in spite of liberals’ opposition to requiring a photo ID to vote, here are 10 things you need a valid photo ID for that they seem to be completely OK with:

1. Buy Alcohol

shocked-spit-out-drink-o

2. Adopt a Pet

ronpuppy

3. Rent/Drive/Register a car

drive

4. Buy tobacco products

cigs

5. Open or access a bank account

panda making it rain

6. Get on an airplane

squirrel

 

7. Buy some cold medicines

leslie sick

 

8. Get a job

job

9. Buy a gun or ammo

bed gun

10. Buy a cell phone

cell


Elizabeth BeShears is the Executive Director of Alabama Citizens for Media Accountability, a non-profit watchdog group dedicated to exposing bias in the Alabama and national media. For more information and articles, visit MediaAccountability.org

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4 years ago

Ala. House Speaker hammers VP Biden for photo voter ID comments

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

At a reception in honor of Black History Month on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard responded to Biden’s comments today, suggesting the vice president and the rest of the Obama Administration concentrate on fixing the ObamaCare “disaster” and leave Alabama’s elections to the state. Hubbard also made it clear that “hatred” had nothing to do with the passage of Alabama’s photo voter ID law.

“The only things we hate in Alabama are voter fraud and liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. trying to tell us how to run our state,” Hubbard told Yellowhammer. “There is nothing more sacred than the right to vote and we’re doing everything we can to protect that right for citizens of all colors. Seems to me like Joe Biden and the rest of the Obama Administration need to be focused on fixing the disaster that is ObamaCare and reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending. If Obama and Biden can’t even get a website to work, why would we take advice from them on how to run our elections?”

Alabama’s photo voter ID law kicks in this year, but voters without photo identification have two options to get a free ID to meet the requirement. They can either go to the Dept. of Public Safety office in their county and acquire a free non-drivers ID card or go to their local Board of Registrars office to get a free photo ID there.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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4 years ago

Biden: There’s ‘hatred’ behind Alabama’s photo voter ID law

Vice President Joe Biden during a vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012
Vice President Joe Biden during a vice presidential debate on Oct. 11, 2012

At a reception in honor of Black History Month on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

Alabama’s photo voter ID law kicks in this year, but voters without photo identification have two options to get a free ID to meet the requirement. They can either go to the Dept. of Public Safety office in their county and acquire a free non-drivers ID card or go to their local Board of Registrars office to get a free photo ID there.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Alabama has played a significant role in the history of U.S. voting laws.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed in response to racial discrimination in voting, which was prevalent in Alabama and other areas of the country for decades. Section 5 of the Act required certain states and local governments with a history of discrimination to receive “pre-clearance” by the U.S. Attorney General or a panel of U.S. District Court judges before making any changes to their voting laws or practices.

Shelby County, Ala. sued the U.S. Attorney General in 2011 claiming that portions of the Act were unconstitutional. The case ultimately made its way to the Supreme Court last year. The Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the formula used to determine which areas were subjected to pre-clearance was unconstitutional, effectively gutting the law.

“Alabama has made tremendous progress over the past 50 years, and this decision by the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that progress,” Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said at the time. “We will not tolerate discrimination in Alabama.”

But a group of federal lawmakers in January introduced a bill in response to the Court’s decision. Vice President Biden said on Tuesday that he hopes it will pass.

“This fight has been too long, this fight has been too hard, to do anything other than win,” he said.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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