If you’ve been following me for a while, you already know I like a nice bottle of whiskey. After a long day at work, I like to unwind with a glass of Jameson or Tullamore Dew with a couple of ice cubes while I write about the latest stupidity in our current political news.
Unlike Louisiana or other states where you can buy the spirits of your choice in a grocery store – or even the local gas station – Alabama has state-owned liquor stores. Yes, the deep-red state of Alabama has state-owned businesses, which sounds a lot like the phantom threat of communism you’ll hear a lot about from conservatives from that state.
Recently, Alabama announced that they were closing a bunch of DMV offices to save money. These 31 offices were primarily based in areas where non-white voters were concentrated, a fact pointed out by the only black member of Congress from Alabama.
Rep. Terri Sewell, who is also the only African-American in the state’s congressional delegation, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday calling for a “full and thorough investigation” into the matter.
“This decision will leave eight out of the 10 counties with the highest percentage of non-white registered voters without a Department of Motor Vehicles to issue an Alabama driver’s license,” Sewell wrote in the one-page letter. “This fact combined with Alabama’s voter ID law means that the DMV closure decision will disproportionately affect African-American voters in violation of their constitutionally protected right to vote.” (Source)
The Justice Department pointed out that this was a violation of the 1993 Motor Voter Act, and threatened to sue Alabama if these planned closures went through. In response, the state said that they might keep these DMV locations open once a week, a decision that would affect residents in 28 out of the 67 counties in Alabama.
Now we could say that maybe these locations weren’t that busy and Alabama needed to save money, but it’s also a not-surprising coincidence that these counties tend to be mostly poor – and mostly black.
Again, let’s play devil’s advocate and assume that Alabama really, really needed to balance their budget and closing these offices was imperative to doing that. That might make sense, if it wasn’t for the fact that the state also owns liquor stores that have been losing money, but Alabama is keeping them open regardless.
There are some things that a state should provide to residents and businesses, but liquor isn’t one of them. But in Alabama, if you’re a private citizen or a business, you have to go through the state to purchase that bottle of Tullamore Dew or a cheap bottle of rotgut you’ll eventually hurl at someone in a drunken fury after being told to read a book – or that Auburn football sucks..
According to AL.com, the closures of the DMV offices will save the state all of $100,000.
The state has closed the driver’s license offices in 28 counties to save $100,000, incurring local backlash and a national shaming and leaving residents in those counties having to drive longer distances just to be able to drive legally.
At the same time, the state will keep open one liquor store in one county, Bibb, at a cost of $75,000 a year, so that folks there won’t have to drive too far for a bottle of booze. (Source)
These closures aren’t about saving Alabama taxpayer money, and they certainly aren’t about fiscal responsibility. Alabama is being dragged kicking and screaming from the 19th into the 20th century, and they’re determined to make it as hard as possible for people who might not be conservatives to vote – even if it means getting sued by the federal government in the process.
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