At the polls, two things are necessary to cast a ballot: an opinion and a voter ID.

The latter has been disputed more than once in the courts, as some believe requiring photo identification to vote can be considered limiting one's constitutional rights. But for Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, he – and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals – deems voter IDs necessary and legal.

“Photo ID significantly reduces the potential for voter fraud to be committed, and we will remain dedicated to providing free, fair, and secure elections,” Merrill said in a press release.

Merrill affirmed today that the "security and integrity of elections" must be protected, and photo identification is one way to uphold these values. He added that there are plenty of actions in place that require photo ID, and voting is worthy of a spot on such a list.

Here are some things that cannot be performed without a valid photo ID:

  • Purchasing alcohol or tobacco products
  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • Flying on an airplane
  • Purchasing a firearm
  • Booking a hotel

"Voting is equally or more important than all of these other examples where a photo ID is required," Merrill said.

Merrill asserted that obtaining a valid photo ID for voting is "so easy," so requiring it for elections should not be a legal issue. According to the Secretary of State's website, an applicant can receive a free photo ID if they provide an application (available online here) and one of the following items:

  • Birth Certificate
  • Hospital or nursing home record
  • Marriage Record
  • State or Federal Census Record
  • Military Record
  • Medicare or Medicaid document
  • Social Security Administration Document
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Official school record or transcript

As election season begins to enter the home stretch, conversations surrounding voter IDs grow more common, as some argue that the parameters set forth to receive an ID are "racially discriminatory," according to the 95-page ruling. The Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) filed the lawsuit against Merrill in 2015 to challenge the 2011 Photo Voter Identification Law and bring more leniency to election requirements.

The organizations argued that there should be no limitations to voting beyond the age and citizenship parameters that are outlined in the U.S. Constitution. Merrill's arguments centered around the fact that it is his job to eliminate voter fraud and maintain an election process that holds everyone accountable in the fairest way.

Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of Merrill.

“The Alabama voter ID law does not violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, nor does it violate the Voting Rights Act," the court declared.

Merrill and his team are working to uphold their promises for free and fair elections by offering mobile Voter ID acquisition units. In fact, one of these units is on its way to West Alabama. Here are the details:

Where: Sumiton City Hall in Sumiton, Alabama
When: July 24, 2020
Time: 2-4 p.m.
More information: Click Here

“Through our annual visits to all 67 counties to register voters and issue free photo voter ID’s, multimedia campaigns to educate voters, and collaboration with local community leaders, notable Alabamians, and more, we have worked to see that every eligible resident of our state, who is interested, is registered to vote and has a photo ID," Merrill said. "Our success has allowed us to shatter every record in the history of [the] state for voter registration and voter participation."

To find out more about Alabama's election process, click here.

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