Positively identify provision upheld

Published 3:15 pm Monday, February 22, 2016

Attorney General Luther Strange said a federal court ruling not to enjoin part of Alabama’s voter identification law is a victory for the integrity of Alabama’s upcoming elections, and also protects access for voters without a photo ID in certain circumstances.

A provision of the Voter ID law allows someone without a valid photo ID to cast a ballot if he or she can be positively identified by two election officials as a qualified voter.

This provision, which actually extends protection to would-be voters, was challenged in the case of “Greater Birmingham Ministries and Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. State of Alabama,” filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, according to a press release from Strange’s office.

The Attorney General’s Constitutional Defense Section represented the secretary of state in opposing the challenge.

Last week, the court denied the plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction of the provision.

Plaintiffs compared the “positively identify” provision to a pre-civil rights practice that required someone registering to vote to find already registered voters who would vouch for them.

The court rejected this argument, saying, “the positively identify provision in Alabama’s Voter ID law is dissimilar from these vouchers of the past in that it is not a requirement that must be met before voting.”

Instead, it is an additional “method of proving a voter’s identity that supplements the objective requirement of producing a photo ID.”

The court continued by noting that “the positively identify provision gives more voters, including minority voters, the opportunity to vote.”

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin said roughly 95 percent of individuals voting in Chilton County usually have a form of ID to vote.

“Nobody is ever kept from voting,” Martin said. “We want people to vote.”

Strange praised the court’s decision and noted that this means the state’s voter ID laws will be intact in upcoming elections.

“Our voter ID law is an important measure that properly balances the right of citizens to vote with their right to have confidence in the integrity of our elections,” Strange said in a release.

Strange noted that anyone with questions about voter ID requirements in advance of the March 1 Primary Election and April 12 Primary Runoff Election can visit the Secretary of State’s website dedicated to voter ID at www.alabamavoterid.com or contact the Secretary’s office at (800) 274-8683.