In a procedural win for voting rights advocates, a federal judge has denied a motion by the state of Alabama to dismiss a challenge to its voter ID law.
Plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense Fund argue that Alabama’s ID law violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against blacks. According to expert witnesses, around 100,000 registered votes in the state lack acceptable ID, and blacks are twice as likely as whites to be among them.
Alabama passed the law in 2011, but it did not even try to get it pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department, as was required at the time for it to go into effect. It remained on hold until 2013, when the Supreme Court, in Shelby County v. Holder,effectively neutered the pre-clearance system. That day, the state announced that t he law would go into effect.
“Discriminatory voter ID laws do not protect our democracy – they damage it,” said LDF president Sherrilyn Ifill in a statement. “Alabama’s photo ID law is no exception, robbing thousands of citizens of the right to vote under the false pretext of preventing voter fraud, an all but nonexistent problem. Today’s ruling brings us a step closer to ensuring that all eligible voters can make their voices heard at the ballot box without obstruction or discrimination.”
A trial is scheduled for December.