The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper's blog on all things related to Alabama politics and state government, featuring the writings of Sebastian Kitchen and Markeshia Ricks
In a 7 to 2 vote, the House Constitution, Campaigns and Election Committee gave a favorable report to a bill that would allow voters to show only government issued, photo identification at the polls.
If the bill becomes law, it would reduce the kind of identifying material that a person could possibly use to prove they are a voter from nearly 30 to 3.
And all three kinds of identification would have to be government issued.
State Rep. Kerry Rich, R-Albertville, is sponsoring the voter photo-I.D. bill, which is being pushed by Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman as a way to fight voter fraud.
The former two-term legislator who made his return to the State House on the Republican sweep of the 2010 election cycle told his colleagues that the bill would go a long way in streamlining the identification process that exists under current law.
In 2003, state legislators passed a law that allows voters to use nearly 30 forms of identification at the polls including bank statements and utility bills, as long as it had the voter's name on it. Under Rich's bill a voter would have to provide poll workers with picture identification issued by the state or federal government such as a driver's license, a non-driver identification card or military identification card.
The bill further provides that since the photo identification would be a requirement of the law, the state would provide, free of charge, state issued identification cards for those who would need them. A Legislative Fiscal Office analysis estimates those free cards and subsequent renewals and duplicates could cost the Alabama Department of Public Safety $750,000 (new) and $398,000 (renewals/duplicates), respectively, as they did in fiscal 2010.
Rich said he believes that most people use their driver's license when they go to the polls so it shouldn't cause any problems for about 99 percent of Alabamians. He said provisions that allow homebound elderly and those with disabilities to vote absentee ballot by using a witness or having them notarized wouldn't change. He said those who manage to forget their government issued photo identification on election day would still be allowed to vote provisional ballots, or they can have two certified poll workers sign an affidavit verifying their identity.
Two of the three Democrats on the committee, State Representatives Juandalynn Givan and Demetrius Newton, both of Birmingham, voted against the measure. State Rep. Richard Lindsey of Talladega voted for the measure after he amended it to make sure that probate judges would work with DPS to issue photo identification instead of the Secretary of State's Office.
-- Markeshia Ricks
Check out this list of current forms of identification considered acceptable at the polls in Alabama from the Secretary of State's Website:
South Union Street is the blog of Montgomery Advertiser political reporters Markeshia Ricks and Sebastian Kitchen. Always check here for the latest on the Legislature, elections and other activities and players in Alabama.