MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund is asking a federal appeals court for a rehearing in its lawsuit challenging Alabama’s photo ID law as racially discriminatory.
In July, a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a split decision to uphold a lower court order that dismissed a lawsuit filed by minority voters challenging the law. The petition filed Monday asks for an en banc rehearing by all of the judges of the court.
The Alabama lawsuit was among the latest legal battles in the U.S. between voting rights advocates, who say the measures are aimed at suppressing voter turnout, and conservative states that argue the protections are needed to ensure honest elections.
Alabama has required voters to show government-issued photo ID since 2014. State lawmakers approved the photo ID law in 2011 after the GOP took control of the Legislature.
The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and minority voters had sued over the law in 2015, calling it discriminatory and an infringement on voting rights. They contended Alabama politicians knew when they enacted it that black and Latino voters disproportionately lack photo ID.
“It is clear from the statements of the legislators who enacted Alabama’s photo ID law that they passed it for the unconstitutional purpose of discriminating against voters of color,” LDF Senior Counsel Natasha Merle said in a statement.
Secretary of State John H. Merrill said in July that the court's ruling confirmed that the state’s photo ID law is “fair and non-burdensome to voters.”
He also said his office has “worked to see that every eligible resident of our state, who is interested, is registered to vote and has a photo ID.”