The U.S. Department of Justice is taking an aggressive front in the battle over voter protection and is preparing to challenge voting rights laws in some states, including Alabama.
The move is in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that dealt a major setback to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange spoke with WSFA 12 News exclusively and said the state will be ready for any legal challenges. He denied any claims that the state's now in effect voter ID law is any kind of poll tax designed to keep minorities or the elderly from voting.
"I can only chalk it up to politics," the AG said giving his assessment on possible new legal challenges to Alabama's requirement to present a valid photo ID when preparing to enter a ballot booth.
"I think it's insulting to Alabama and to other states in the South now to pretend like it's 1965," AG Strange said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a speech Thursday that the Justice Department would utilize other sections of the Voting rights Act to fight discrimination at the polls.
"We plan to fully utilize the law's remaining sections to subject states to pre-clearance as necessary," Holder said. Preclearance is the now defunct requirement that some states with histories of voter discrimination get approval from Washington before they can make changes.
Strange says Alabama's voter ID law is common sense and now the state is free to make its own decisions.
When the Supreme Court struck down the formula for preclearance, that put Alabama's law into effect immediately. The state will provide free identification to all registered voters.
"No one should have to do anything more than is required by law. I think the law is very fair. I think it makes common sense. Most people understand that a picture ID is just common sense required in so many other parts of our life," Strange explained. "Certainly I see no problem asking for that in the context of casting your vote."
The Justice Department will join a lawsuit in Texas to block that state's similar voter ID legislation. It isn't immediately known if or when the Justice Dept. would attempt to block Alabama's law.
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