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LDF Files Partial Summary Judgment Motion Opposing Alabama Voter ID Law

10/02/17

Read a PDF of our statement here.

LDF Files Partial Summary Judgment Motion Opposing Alabama Voter ID Law

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) has filed a motion for partial summary judgment in Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill—a challenge to Alabama’s voter ID law, House Bill 19 (H.B. 19). The LDF brief contends that the Alabama law indisputably harms more Black and Latino Alabama voters than white voters in a manner that has a racially discriminatory effect and supports plaintiffs' claims that the law violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA).

“Alabama Secretary of State’s own expert agrees that Black and Latino Alabamans are significantly more likely than white Alabamans to lack the photo ID required to vote,” Deuel Ross, LDF Assistant Counsel, said. “Black voters are also almost five times more likely than whites to have their provisional ballots rejected because they lack a photo ID. The lopsided impact that H.B. 19 has on Black and Latino voters, at this point in our litigation, undeniably shows this law’s racially discriminatory effect.”

LDF contends that H.B. 19 is unlawful because Black and Latino voters disproportionately lack proper photo IDs required to vote as compared to White voters, and H.B. 19’s Positively Identify Provision acts as an unlawful screen on voter’s ability to access the ballot.

Alabama’s H.B. 19 went into effect in 2014, and requires that voters obtain a valid, government-issued photo ID to vote in-person or absentee. All experts in the case agree that Black and Latino voters are overrepresented among the tens of thousands of Alabama voters without a proper voter photo ID. LDF’s expert found that Black voters are 1.78 times more likely, and Latino voters are 1.67 times more likely, than white voters to lack a proper photo ID.

Under the law’s “positively identify” rule, a person without proper photo identification can vote if two poll workers sign affidavits verifying that they personally know the voter. Alabama’s “positively identify” rule allows poll workers unfettered discretion to determine whether to let a person without photo ID vote cast a ballot. Undisputed expert data shows that 57% of white voters without a driver’s license—the most common photo identification—know their check-in poll worker. Few such Black voters know their poll workers. Furthermore, poll workers are under no obligation to even tell voters of the “positively identify” rule. 

The VRA prohibits any practice, which denies citizens the right to vote because of race or color. It also bars “any test or device” or prerequisite—like literacy tests—that requires a voter to be vouched for by another, and which have been historically used to suppress Black voting.

LDF filed the brief in tandem with law firms, Covington & Burling LLP and McGuire & Associates.

Read our full summary judgment motion here.

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.