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NAACP files suit against Alabama voter ID law

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The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s voter ID law.

The complaint alleges the law disproportionately prevents minorities from voting, in violation of the 14th and 15th Amendments and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

“Indeed, the Photo ID Law is simply the latest chapter in Alabama’s long and brutal history of intentional racial discrimination,” the complaint said.

{mosads}The civil rights group said that 25 percent of blacks nationwide lack photo IDs, compared to 16 percent of Hispanics and 8 percent of white people, in a statement, making the law a significant burden on the ability to vote.

Alabama’s law requiring photo ID before voters can cast a ballot has sparked controversy. Supporters say the measure is necessary to prevent voter fraud, but civil rights groups and Democrats charge that it is intended to block minority voters.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton in October called the law “discriminatory and demeaning” and urged its repeal.

The debate over the law intensified in September when Alabama announced it would close down 31 part-time offices of the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), which issues approved IDs.

The state cited budgetary reasons for the closures, noting that part-time offices shuttered accounted for less than 5 percent of driver’s licenses issued each year. Critics said many offices being closed were in mostly minority neighborhoods.

The NAACP said the combination of the voter ID law and the closure of the DMV offices prompted them to take action.

In the landmark 2013 case Shelby County v. Holder, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act requiring states to get “preclearance” from the federal government before making changes to state voting laws.

The NAACP said that decision does not bar them from challenging the constitutionality of the law on other grounds.

“The Shelby County decision, however, did not block suits challenging voting restrictions that are racially discriminatory under other provisions of the Voting Rights Act or the United States Constitution,” the complaint said. “Alabama’s Photo ID Law is just such a prohibited restriction.”  

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