MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit challenging Alabama’s voter ID law that requires people to show government-issued photo identification at the polls.
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler on Wednesday ruled in favour of the state, saying the provision does not discriminate against minorities and is not an undue infringement on the right to vote since the state will make free IDs available for voting purposes.
Since 2014, Alabama has required voters to show government-issued photo identification when they vote. The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and minority voters had sued over the law in 2015, saying it was discriminatory and an infringement on voting rights. They contended Alabama politicians knew when they enacted it that black and Latino voters “disproportionately lack the required photo ID.”
Coogler ruled in favour of the state, noting that the state makes free IDs available to people who lack them.
“In Alabama, the law has no discriminatory impact because it does not prevent anyone from voting, not when free IDs are issued in every county, or at home, under conditions that any registered voter can meet,” Coogler wrote.
State legislators approved the photo ID law not long after the Alabama Legislature switched to GOP control, arguing the measure was needed to combat potential voter fraud.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall praised the decision, saying the state’s voter ID law was one of the “broadest in the nation” because of the mechanisms for obtaining a free ID.
“Today’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit is without a doubt the right decision,” Marshall said in a statement.
LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill said the organization is considering its next steps.
“We are deeply disappointed by the judge’s ruling dismissing our case before trial. Over the course of two years, we have developed a sound case demonstrating that Alabama’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory,” Ifill said in a statement.
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