Closing Driver's License Offices in Alabama

October 7, 2015

Alabama is planning to close 31 of its part-time driver’s license issuing offices across the state, citing budget cuts. The state currently requires that voters present one of a narrow list of photo identification documents in order to vote, such as a driver’s license or a government employee ID card. As of 2014 an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 Alabamians lacked the specific ID required to vote.

The Brennan Center will be analyzing the impact of this change, but in the meantime, this map[1] illustrates how many of the closing offices are located in areas with Alabama’s highest concentrations of African Americans:

Alabama Voter ID

The preliminary analysis suggests that the license office closures are largely concentrated in and around the “black belt,” the portion of the state where the proportion of the population that is African American is highest.

Here are some facts about the closure of the license offices:[2]

  • 26.3 percent of the total Alabama population is African American.
  • Currently, in 11 Alabama counties, African Americans comprise more than 50 percent of the population. Driver’s license offices will close in eight of these counties,[3] which will leave only three majority-African American counties[4] with a driver’s license office.
  • Under Alabama’s plan, license-issuing offices will close in all six of counties[5] in which African Americans comprise over 70 percent of the population.
  • Conversely, 40 license-issuing offices will remain open in the 55 Alabama counties in which whites comprise more than 50 percent of the population.
  • In 2012, the Brennan Center reported that 32 percent of Alabama’s voting-age population lived more than 10 miles away from the nearest license issuing office that was open more than two days per week.  

[1] Map based on census tract data from United States Census Bureau American FactFinder, B02001 ACS Race: 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2013.

[2] These figures were calculated using the following resources. United States Census Bureau American FactFinder, DP05 ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates: 2009-2013 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates, 2013, available at http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk; Driver License Offices, Ala. Law Enforcement Agency, http://dps.alabama.gov/home/DriverLicensePages/wfDLOffices.aspx (last visited Oct. 7, 2015).

[3] Bullock, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Perry, Sumter, Wilcox

[4] Dallas, Montgomery, Marengo

[5] Bullock, Greene, Lowndes, Macon, Sumter, Wilcox