Tag: Alabama

Not As Bad as All That

My stance on voter ID laws is pretty simple: as long as it is easy for residents to get an ID, I’m in favor of them. You can’t fish without an ID in some parts of this country so I see no reason why voting shouldn’t require an ID. Most other countries require them. While I don’t think there is the massive vote fraud Republicans allege, I don’t think the problem is as minuscule as Democrats like to pretend (it’s kind of hard to measure how much voter fraud is going on when you don’t require ID). Voter ID seems a fairly minimal requirement … if an ID is easy to get.

Democrats, of course, have been milking this issue for a while now, claiming this is really about suppressing the votes of black people. This week, they seemed to get a big confirmation of that:

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s website says their office at the Clarke County Courthouse is still open, but soon a lot of others nearby won’t be. On Wednesday, the agency announced that it would close 31 offices throughout the state, leaving 29 counties without a place where 16-year-olds can take a driver’s test, whether they pass on the first try or not.

That’s an inconvenience.

But there’s something bigger happening here.

In 2011, Alabama lawmakers approved the state’s voter ID law, making it illegal to vote in Alabama without a government-issued photo ID.

For most folks, that’s a driver’s license.

Depending on which counties you count as being in Alabama’s Black Belt, either twelve or fifteen Black Belt counties soon won’t have a place to get a driver’s license.

Counties where some of the state’s poorest live.

Counties that are majority African-American.

So the state is shutting down DMV’s in counties that are mostly black. Sounds like the Republicans are trying to stop black people from voting, right? Well

Secretary of State John Merrill, Alabama’s chief election official, said late Wednesday that the state’s closing of 31 county driver’s license offices won’t leave residents without a place to get the required I.D. card to vote.

Merrill said state election officials “will issue (photo voter I.D. cards) on our own” at county Board of Registrars offices. “Every county has a Board of Registrars,” he said.

Merrill said his office will have brought its mobile I.D. van to every county in Alabama by Oct. 31. He said the van will return to counties when requested. “If they can’t go to the board of registrars, we’ll bring a mobile crew down there,” Merrill said.

So … no, this isn’t going to shut thousand or millions of black Alabamans out of the polls. It just changes where they’re going to get their IDs. Now it’s not clear that the registrars can handle this, so it’s worth keeping an eye on. And we should be aware of the expense involved in getting some of the documentation needed for an ID (e.g., birth certificates). But it’s clear the initial headlines were overblown.

I’ll pretend to be surprised.

Alabama Steps Up

I rarely say this: good for Alabama:

Republicans dropped a legislative bombshell tonight as they slammed through a dramatically revamped education bill that will give tax credits for families at “failing schools” to send their children to private school or another public school.

Lawmakers voted mid-day to send a school flexibility bill — that would let school systems seek waivers from some policies — to conference committee. The conference committee reported a dramatically different bill that included the flexibility measures plus what some lawmakers called school vouchers.

Republicans heralded it as a historic day for education and life-altering for children stuck in poorly performing schools. But tempers boiled over as Democrats called the maneuver “sleaziness” and a “bait and switch.”

If the Democrats think this is sleazy, they are apparently unfamiliar with how the sausage is made in a democracy. If they had the numbers, they could have easily voted this down. If they had the governorship, they could veto it. But they have neither, so they are reduced to decrying sleazy tactics and throwing the race card.

Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, as she was leaving the House chamber threw her hands over her head and shouted, “Welcome to the new confederacy where a bunch of white men are now going to take over black schools.”

Actually, this about removing children, including black ones, from a system that is centrally managed and controlled; about giving the more control of their future not less. The bill includes provisions for corporations and individuals to set up scholarships for kids to escape the failing public schools (Alabama is in the bottom portion of spending per pupil and almost at the bottom in achievement). What we are talking is potential liberation from the Soviet-style education system that places kids in schools based not on ability, need or disposition but location. A system that has created a horrific divide between functional suburban schools and failing city schools.

The fact is that the states are growing desperate. They see ever more money poured into public schools with no results. A game-changer is needed. Is this the magic formula? I have no idea but it’s worth a shot, isn’t it?

As for the sleazy tactics, I would prefer that the Republicans have put this on the table earlier so that proper debate could have been had. Ultimately, the voters will decide on that. But this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. The unions and their allies have pulled out all the stops in the past — including using children as political shields — to oppose even modest attempts at reform. Last year’s voucher bill went down in flames because of these tactics. I know I should be objective here but I’m finding it hard to fault the Republicans for not giving their opponents enough time to drag some kids down to Montgomery for yet another staged protest.

Alabama’s Strict Immigration Law Upheld In Large Part

Judge upholds key parts of Alabama immigration enforcement law

Ah, I can feel the construction jobs coming back to Alabama as I type, reserved for Americans and/or legal residents.

One of the provisions upheld by Judge Blackburn is the section requiring that the immigration status of students be checked. While I personally don’t regard this as the most important provision, I put it at the top of this post specifically to draw a distinction between the kinds of Republicans who wrote, passed and signed this law into effect, and the kind, like Rick Perry, who think illegal aliens ought to not only be allowed to enroll in state colleges, but should enjoy the same discounts as Texas residents do by paying in-state tuition rather than the higher out-of-state prices that non-Texan American citizens and legal residents must pay. Our new law, for as long as it survives the appeals, will prevent, or at least vastly reduce, illegals from enrolling in state colleges at all.

Just for a little background for those who don’t know, this law is the direct result of Alabamians putting the legislative and executive branches of state government in the hands of Republicans for the first time in 136 years in last year’s election. Generally-speaking, the Republicans elected here are reasonably described as true conservatives, and not RINOs. I think this law is the first of many more to come that reflects that bit of smart scrutiny applied by our citizenry last November.

From the Michelle Malkin piece linked to above:

Also upheld: The provisions authorizing local police to inquire about detainees’ immigration status.

Alabama didn’t wait for the feds to do the job they should be doing. Before the ruling, they implemented “AL-Verify:”

Monday Governor Robert Bentley unveiled a new development in the illegal immigration debate. It’s a state-developed computer system that can verify citizenship as quickly as you can show your driver’s license.

It’s called AL-Verify. Some say this isn’t needed until a judge rules on Alabama’s new immigration law.

John McMillan, with the Alabama Commission of Agriculture and Industries says he will definitely be watching.

“Some of our farmers have been in talks with legislators. I have been involved in some of those meetings, and my role is going to be keeping legislators informed of what I see out there on the ground,” said McMillan.

McMillan, and many others are waiting to see what an up or down vote for Alabama’s immigration law means, or if there will be any provisions.

While many people wait, the governor and his cabinet members are moving forward, and they’re doing it through the AL-Verify program.

“We provided an automated way to be compliant so the process for getting a title or a tag hasn’t really changed but because of the immigration bill we had a compliance issue. Now with this technology we’ve solved the compliance issue,” said Julie Magee, the Commissioner for the Department of Revenue.

Magee said she didn’t know how much the technology cost, but the program is live, and here’s the way it works: You put your driver’s license info in and AL-Verify tells you whether it’s valid.

Cries of “heartless!” in 3, 2, 1…

First time since we moved here 20 years ago that we’ve had a friend in the Department of Revenue!

Meantime, Mr. Irascible — our thin-skinned commander-in-chief — gets peeved over an illegal alien student’s carping about lack of DREAM Act passage…and then doubles down by telling Latino leaders to quit complaining.

Heal thyself, whiner.

Here’s the only place I disagree with Michelle in this piece. No, Michelle, we do not need to count on Obama or his ilk to heal thyself, we need to heal the country ourselves by ousting every last one of them. Even if we did that in one fell swoop, true healing is still a long-shot. Still, Alabama has shown the way towards restoring the ideal of America being  for Americans. It’s a good sign. I just hope other states and the .fedgov follow suit in 2012 the way us Alabamians did in 2010.