Artur Davis was a Congressman from Alabama and he ran for Governor last year in the Democratic primary and lost. He's currently retired from politics but offers his thoughts on voter IDs. In fact he wants us to know that as a politician he wasn't in favor of voter ID laws!
The truth is that the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community, at least in Alabama, is the wholesale manufacture of ballots, at the polls and absentee, in parts of the Black Belt.Politics trump the need to find ways to ensure clean elections apparently. Shenanigans may always ensue when it comes to politics!
Voting the names of the dead, and the nonexistent, and the too-mentally-impaired to function, cancels out the votes of citizens who are exercising their rights -- that's suppression by any light. If you doubt it exists, I don't; I've heard the peddlers of these ballots brag about it, I've been asked to provide the funds for it, and I am confident it has changed at least a few close local election results.
There is no question that a voter ID law, in order to pass legal muster and in order to be just, must have certain characteristics. It should contain exceptions for the elderly or disabled who may not drive, and as a consequence lack the most conventional ID, a driver's license. There should also be a process for non-drivers to obtain a photo ID, and the process has to be cost-free, for the simple reason that even a nominal financial impediment to voting looks and feels too much like a poll tax.
It is my understanding that the Alabama statute contains each of these exceptions and a few others, including a provision for on-site polling officials to waive the requirement if they attest that they know the voter.
The fact that a law that is unlikely to impede a single good faith voter -- and that only gives voting the same elements of security as writing a check at the store, or obtaining a library card -- is controversial does say much about the raw feelings in our current politics. The ugliest, hardest forms of disfranchisement were practiced in our lifetimes, and its still conventional rhetoric in black political circles to say those times are on the way back. Witness a last-minute automated call to black voters in the 2010 general election by state Sen. Hank Sanders, an ingenious lawyer and a skillful legislator who knew better, but who also knew the attack would resonate.