NAACP Suffers Blow as Appeals Court Upholds Alabama's Voter ID Law
Updated: Jul 24
(Atlanta, GA) – A divided 11th Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted to uphold Alabama’s voter ID law in a 2-1 decision issued Tuesday. The law, which was passed in 2011 and became operative in 2014, was challenged by the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and Greater Birmingham Ministries. The plaintiffs argued the voter ID law violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act due to its discriminatory impact on minorities.
After losing in district court, the Plaintiffs had appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals based in Atlanta. The majority opinion was written by Judge Lisa Branch and joined by Judge Ed Carnes. The majority stated in part that, “Although it was undisputed that minority registered voters are statistically more likely than white voters to lack the required ID, a person who does not have a photo ID today is not prevented from voting if he or she can easily get one, and it is so easy to get a photo ID in Alabama, no one is prevented from voting.” Judge Darrin Gayles disagreed with the majority opinion. In his dissent, he wrote that Alabama has a “history of enacting laws designed to suppress people of color” and the case deserved a full trial. Gayles referenced former State Senator Scott Beason’s 2010 comments referring to Blacks as “aborigines” while discussing gambling bills, along with other comments as evidence of racial motivation behind the voter ID law. The majority opinion was unpersuaded by this argument, stating “it cannot be that Alabama’s history bans its legislature from ever enacting otherwise constitutional laws about voting.”
The majority opinion also pointed out that there is “only a 1 percent difference between the ID possession rates of white and minority Alabama voters.” Secretary of State John Merrill called the decision a “major victory” in a statement issued after the ruling. Merrill has consistently noted that the Alabama Secretary of State’s office works to ensure those who need a photo ID can have one delivered to their homes.
Attorney General Steve Marshall also applauded the ruling, writing that the voter ID law “contains procedures to allow anyone who does not have a photo ID to obtain one.”
To download a form for a free Alabama issued photo ID click here: https://www.sos.alabama.gov/sites/default/files/voter-pdfs/candidate-resources/ApplicationForFreeALPhotoVoterIdCard.pdf
To register to vote, click here: https://www.sos.alabama.gov/sites/default/files/voter-