Today we shift our focus from Roseburg, Oregon and the consequences of conservative cowardice at the prospect of losing the endorsement of the NRA. Today we turn to the great state of Alabama and the GOP’s ongoing efforts to suppress the minority vote.
Selma, Alabama sits in the middle of what has historically been referred to as the Cotton Belt. Seventeen counties running east to west across the state; home to some of the richest, blackest most fertile soil in the world and the epicenter of what once upon a time was the state’s most profitable field crop…cotton.
Owing to the financial opportunities literally lying at their feet, local plantation owners brought thousands of slaves into the region to work the cotton fields. Over time the black population exceeded the white and the area referred to as the Cotton Belt also became known as the Black Belt. The disproportionate number of blacks versus whites living in the region remains in effect today…as does the reference.
In 2008 and 2012 the predominantly Democratic voters in the Black Belt were instrumental in helping Barak Obama win the White house.
In 2014 Alabama’s GOP led state legislature took steps decided to diminish the electoral power of the Black Belt and other like-minded citizens by passing new voter I’d laws that were particularly impactful on the minority population. A list of approved forms of identification became the law; one of which had to be presented in order to vote. Number one on the approved list…a valid state driver’s license. Over 250,000 black Alabamans who had legally voted in previous elections could now be turned away due to lack of proper identification.
Alabama is a poor state; one of the poorest in the country. So poor that the GOP legislature recently convened and emergency session to figure out how to pay its bills. Alabama’s elected leaders decided that budgetary cuts were in order. Included among the cuts was the closure of 28 offices across the state that issued state driver’s licenses.
Fifteen of the 28 office closures just happen to be in counties within the Black Belt…10 of the 15 in counties where blacks make up over 75% of the population.
After the last general election Republicans promised to be “more inclusive” in policy and thought. It appears that what we have here is the Party keeping its word; including the state of Alabama in its efforts to suppress the vote.
My thanks to the Rachel Maddow Show for bringing this story to light.