It helps to know someone at the polls for Alabama voters with no photo identification.
Or maybe it's the other way around.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced Friday that a ruling last week in a lawsuit against the state challenging voter ID provisions will still allow anyone without a valid photo ID to cast a ballot as long as at least two election officials can positively identify them as a qualified voter.
The suit, filed by Greater Birmingham Ministries and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, alleges Alabama violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in enacting the photo ID requirement to vote. The group calls Alabama's photo ID law suppressive and contends it "imposes significant and disproportionate burdens on African-American and Latino voters in the state," states a case update posted in December on the NAACP website.
Key dates for Alabama voters
Feb. 25: Last day to make application for absentee ballot
Feb. 29: Last day to hand-deliver or postmark an absentee ballot
March 1: Presidential Preference Primary and Alabama Primary Elections
Source: Alabama Secretary of State
Before 2011, IDs without photos were accepted in Alabama.
At the DeKalb County Board of Registrars office in Fort Payne, Ala., board member Jo Stiefel said it's a rarity that anyone shows up at the polls without a photo ID, and she couldn't remember a situation where a voter required election officials to vouch for them.
Stiefel said as long as a person is registered to vote already, a photo ID that meets requirements for voting can be produced as late as election day.
"As long as they have identification, it is so easy to do and it's so convenient for the voters," Stiefel said. The law "is written so that it doesn't leave anyone out."
But the plaintiffs argue it does.
Since 2000, "there has been only one documented case where one Alabama voter sought to impersonate another," the plaintiffs state in the lawsuit. The 2011 law immediately disfranchised at least 280,000 registered voters, they allege.
"It is no accident that a disproportionate number of those disfranchised voters are African-American and Latino. Indeed, the Photo ID Law is simply the latest chapter in Alabama's long and brutal history of intentional racial discrimination," the plaintiff's complaint states.
"For five decades, Alabama's use of discriminatory voting schemes has necessitated repeated federal intervention. Now, Alabama again seeks to disfranchise thousands of African-American and Latino voters — all in the name of "curing" a voter fraud problem that does not exist," the complaint states.
The ruling Wednesday denied a request for an injunction on a long-standing provision that would allow someone without a photo ID to vote if that person can be positively identified by at least two election workers.
Strange said the court described the provision as an additional "method of proving a voter's identity that supplements the objective requirement of producing a photo ID," and that the court noted that "the 'positively identify' provision gives more voters, including minority voters, the opportunity to vote."
Anyone with questions about voter ID requirements in advance of the upcoming March 1 primary election and April 12 primary runoff election can visit the Alabama secretary of state's website dedicated to voter ID at www.alabamavoterid.com or contact the secretary's office at 1-800-274-8683.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at email@example.com or twitter.com/BenBenton or www.facebook.com/ben.benton1 or 423-757-6569.