A federal court has denied a motion to dismiss a challenge to Alabama’s discriminatory voter ID law brought by plaintiffs represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. The ruling comes in the case of Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill, which LDF filed in the Northern District of Alabama in December of 2015 on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries, the Alabama NAACP, Giovana Ambrosio, Shameka Harris, Debra Silvers, and Elizabeth Ware.
In 2011, Alabama passed a law requiring voters to present photo identification before casting their ballots. LDF’s suit contends that the law violates the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by intentionally placing disproportionate burdens on African American and Latino voters. Expert reports estimate that more than 100,000 registered Alabama voters do not have a photo ID that complies with the law, and that Black and Latino voters in the state are about twice as likely as white voters to lack such forms of identification.
“Discriminatory voter ID laws do not protect our democracy – they damage it,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “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. LDF is confident in the strength of our case as we go forward, and we will continue to defend the franchise wherever it is threatened.”
“Alabama’s photo ID law has done real damage, erecting steep barriers to the polling place for African American and Latino voters,” said LDF Assistant Counsel Deuel Ross. “One of the plaintiffs in our case, Debra Silvers, went to great lengths to obtain a photo ID, but was prevented from voting in the March 2016 primary election because of this discriminatory statute. Sadly, after being robbed of one of her last opportunities to vote, she passed away in January. Although she will not live to see the outcome of this case, we are hopeful that as result of our ongoing fight to overturn this law, other Alabamians will soon be able to enjoy the basic right that she was denied.”
LDF is litigating this case with Covington & Burling, LLP, and local attorney Herman Johnson, Jr. Trial is scheduled for December 2017.