On Wednesday, the state of Alabama announced that it was shutting 31 driver's license offices because of budget cuts. Two columns on Al.com subsequently noted that the cuts—which come on the heels of a 2011 law that requires voters to show government-issued IDs—will disproportionately affect counties in the state's largely Democratic “black belt” region.
Columnist Kyle Whitmire writes that 29 of the state's 67 counties will now lack a driver's license office—and, depending on whether you define the “black belt” as constituting 18 or 24 counties, either 12 or 15 of those newly office-less counties will be in the historically black area. Two-thirds of counties in the narrowly defined “black belt” will lack now a driver's license office (12 of 18); only one-third (17 of 49) of other counties will lack one.
Columnist John Archibald, meanwhile, observes that no Alabama counties in which more than 75 percent of registered voters are nonwhite will now have a driver's license office. Another way of framing the issue: Offices will be shuttered in the five counties whose voters most strongly supported Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is Republican, and the state's Senate and House of Representatives are both GOP-controlled.