John Merrill is going to write me a snarky letter, and that’s OK.
I’m going to write a snarky column about Alabama’s voter suppression — and Merrill’s role in it — and I don’t write these things expecting everyone to agree. I write them so at least a few people will at least consider that the way things are in this state aren’t the way they have to be.
And nowhere is that more true than with Alabama’s access to the ballot box.
Now, before Merrill and the other rightwing hacks start banging out replies, let’s get a few things straight. Because while all of them will be entitled to their own opinions, they won’t be entitled to their own facts.
A standard response from the right whenever these matters of ballot access pop up is to demand to know the identity of a single person who lacks the ability or necessary access to be able to vote. Name someone, Merrill loves to say, and I’ll go to their house and make sure … blah, blah, blah.
But this is not the point, and they know it.
As the Southern Poverty Law Center points out in a new report, what Alabama lawmakers have done is to place speed bumps between voters and the ballot in the hopes that with enough speed bumps they can discourage certain targeted groups from voting.
That’s the point of Alabama’s voter ID law. And it’s not hard to prove.
Correspondence between lawmakers in North Carolina — which has ID laws that Alabama lawmakers essentially copied — laid bare just how targeted and intentionally suppressive the ID law was in that state. A federal judge wrote that it targeted black voters with “surgical precision.”
The same thing is happening here. Because the same laws are being used here.
ID laws largely target poor, minority communities and young people, and they establish a barrier between those would-be voters and the polls. They also do absolutely zero to prevent fraud in this state.
It doesn’t matter how many roving caravans Merrill and his staff set up to get IDs to people. The fact remains that thousands of people are being forced to take an extra step, and/or pay extra money, to cast a legal vote.
Under our old system, which allowed dozens of different forms to establish a voter’s ID, we had zero issues. In fact, in the last 30 years, there has been one instance in which a voter’s identity was stolen and an illegal ballot cast. And that one instance was caught and prosecuted.
Whenever a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist is implemented into law, you can bet that the goal wasn’t to actually solve a problem. It was to create one for someone else.
Alabama doesn’t stop there.
In addition to a worthless ID law, we also don’t offer same-day — or even same-week — voter registration. Instead, the deadline to register is 14 days prior to an election, which, in this cyber world where everything is handled by computers, is an eternity.
It used to be just seven days. But after the Voting Rights Act was gutted a few years ago, Alabama lawmakers took the opportunity to target a handful of different groups. They got minority voters with the ID laws, and they took aim at young voters by toying with the registration laws.
Young voters tend to procrastinate and tend to be driven by their peers. As the hype around an election grows, the more interested they become.
And since young people tend to vote for Democrats, well, I think you see how we got here.
That’s not all.
There is also no automatic voter registration in Alabama, which makes no sense with the voter ID law in place. If you have the proper ID, why in the world couldn’t you register online and go vote the same day? Why couldn’t you fill out the registration form at the polling place?
None of it makes any sense, unless, of course, your goal isn’t to make the process of registering to vote as easy as possible, but is instead to deter certain groups of people from casting a ballot.
To be clear, I don’t necessarily blame Merrill for any of this, and you shouldn’t either. As far as Republican secretaries of state go, he hasn’t been that bad, and has on many occasions gone out of his way to offset the negative effects of these suppressive laws.
That said, voting and ballot access is within the purview of the SOS’s office, and as such, Merrill has a duty to speak up when unfair laws are passed and implemented. He has a duty to correct injustices in the state’s voting processes, and he has a duty to inform the Legislature when laws they pass are having a negative effect.
It doesn’t matter the percentage of people that Merrill’s office has registered to vote, or how many registrations he’s managed from his caravan.
The goal is fair elections. And Alabama’s are far from it.
Opinion | For Coach Tub, no thinking required
Has Tommy Tuberville ever had an original thought? It doesn’t sound like it. Coach Tub basically spews Republican talking points and keeps his mouth firmly locked onto Donald Trump. He disrespects Alabama voters so much that he thinks that’s all he needs to do to win a place in the U.S. Senate.
Tuberville recently addressed the St. Clair County Republican Party at its September meeting. As reported by APR, Tuberville is quoted as saying the following, and I’ll offer a short rebuttal. I’m doing this because Tuberville is clearly afraid to death to debate his opponent, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones.
So here goes:
Tuberville: “America is about capitalism, not socialism. I think we are going to decide which direction we are going to go in the next few years.”
Me: We decided which way we were going to go years ago, when the federal government started subsidies for oil and gas companies, farmers and other big industry and business. That, coach, is your so-called “socialism.”
I’m not necessarily opposed to subsidies to boost business, depending on the cause, but I’m not going to let a dimwitted, know-nothing, mediocre, former football coach pretend we don’t already have “socialism” in this country.
What Tuberville really means is that he’s against “socialism” like Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security or food assistance or health insurance. He’s a millionaire already, so there’s no need for him have empathy for or support a safety net for people who are less fortunate socially and economically. That’s Tuberville’s “socialism,” and the Republican Party’s “socialism,” and Trump’s “socialism.”
That’s a cruel, mean perspective that would cast aside the great majority of Americans for the rich (Tuberville, Trump) and connected and, where Trump is concerned, the fawning.
Tuberville: “I am not a Common Core guy. I believe in regular math. We need to get back to teaching history.”
Me: I would love to ask Coach Tubby, one-on-one, exactly what he thinks “Common Core” is. I’ll guarantee you he can’t explain more than he already has. “I believe in regular math?” There is no other math. It’s math. Does he think there’s a math where 1+1=3? There isn’t one. There are a variety of ways to teach math, but there’s only math, not a “fake” math or a “Republican” math or a “Democratic” math or, God forbid, a “Socialist” math.
And when Coach Tommy said, “We need to get back to teaching history,” one wonders if he’s ever been into a classroom. We know more than a few of his former players weren’t in many classrooms, if reports are correct. But they always played the game under his uninspired coaching.
Of course schools teach history.
The history Coach T. is talking about is Donald Trump’s “white” history, the one we’ve been teaching in our schools forever. Not real history; you know, the one where the United States was founded as a slave-holding nation, where Native Americans were massacred and starved by the hundreds of thousands, where white supremacy was codified within our laws, where any color but white was subjugated. That history. The history that is finally fading away, so we can really see where we’ve been as a nation—so we know where, as a nation, we need to go.
Tuberville: Tuberville said he supports following the Constitution and appointing a replacement for Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
Me: Well, of course he does. Tuberville doesn’t have an independent thought in his body, and Donnie told him this is what he’s supposed to think. The big question: How much will a Senator Tuberville be able to function as a member of a minority party in the Senate — with no Papa Trump in the White House to tell him what to do?
Both scenarios are real possibilities, if not likelihoods.
There is no question that Doug Jones is far more qualified than Tuberville. Jones can work across the aisle, which will be vitally important if Democrats take control of the Senate. Jones has his own thoughts, which sometimes go against the Democratic Party’s wishes. Jones is independent, smart and represents Alabama well.
Tuberville is a failed football coach who lives in Florida. That’s about it.
President Donald Trump endorses Barry Moore for Congress
President Donald Trump on Wednesday endorsed Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Barry Moore, sharing his endorsement on Twitter.
In the tweet, the president wrote, “Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama! An early supporter of our #MAGA agenda, he is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order, and the Second Amendment. Barry has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #AL02”
Moore met with the president in the White House on Wednesday.
“I’m truly honored to be endorsed for Congress by President Donald J. Trump,” Moore said. “I have never regretted being the first elected official in America to endorse him for president in 2015, and I’m looking forward to working with him in the next Congress during his second term.”
Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) will be a terrific Congressman for Alabama! An early supporter of our #MAGA agenda, he is Strong on Jobs, Life, the Wall, Law & Order and the Second Amendment. Barry has my Complete and Total Endorsement! #AL02 https://t.co/hlrWU7Drr2
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2020
“President Trump has already accomplished so much and kept so many of his campaign promises despite all that the establishment and the Democrats have done to obstruct him, but he knows there’s still lots to be done,” Moore continued. “We must contain and control the COVID pandemic, restore our economy to the pre-pandemic level of growth and prosperity we enjoyed during his first three years in office. We must restore and maintain law and order on our streets and in our cities. We must finish building the wall, and then fix our broken immigration system.”
“We had great meetings at the White House with the president’s domestic policy team,” Moore said. “Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, was also there. We discussed a new health care plan being introduced, economic recovery, trade with China and expansion of opportunity zones in depressed areas. The president has a bright vision for America.”
“I’m convinced that Donald J. Trump is the president we need to lead us for the next four years, and I hope the people of Alabama’s 2nd District see fit to elect me to work with President Trump as their congressman on Nov. 3,” Moore concluded.
It was an honor to visit the White House and meet with President @realDonaldTrump and VP @Mike_Pence – These are two great men who care about America and the people of Alabama. I look forward to working with them! #MAGA #Trump2020 #BarryMoore2020 #WhiteHouse #alpolitics WH PHOTOS pic.twitter.com/sK3SUXPZg6
— Barry Moore (@RepBarryMoore) September 23, 2020
Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018. Moore is a graduate of Auburn University, a veteran, a small business owner, husband and father.
Moore is running for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is not seeking another term. Moore faces Democratic candidate Phyllis Harvey-Hall.
Jones introduces bill to encourage investments in minority-serving banks
“One of the biggest hurdles for minority entrepreneurs is access to capital,” Jones said.
Alabama U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would encourage investments in banks that serve minority communities.
“One of the biggest hurdles for minority entrepreneurs is access to capital,” Jones said in a statement. “That’s why this bill is so important. Increasing access to capital at the banks that serve minority communities will help expand financial opportunities for individuals and business owners in those communities.”
Jones, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, in April urged the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury to support Community Development Financial Institutions and minority-owned banks disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he threw his support behind more federal funding for small community banks, minority-owned banks and CDFIs during the recent Paycheck Protection Program replenishment.
According to a press release from Jones’s office, the bill would attract investments to those financial institutions by changing rules to allow “minority-owned banks, community banks with under $10 billion in deposits” and CDFIs to accept brokered deposits, or investments with high interest rates, thereby bolstering those institutions and encourage them to invest and lend in their communities.
It would also allow low-income and minority credit unions to access the National Credit Union Administration’s Community Development Revolving Loan Fund.
“Commonwealth National Bank would like to thank Senator Jones for his leadership in introducing the Minority Depository Institution and Community Bank Deposit Access Act. As a small Alabama home grown institution, this proposal will allow us to accept needed deposits without the current limitations that hinder our ability to better serve the historically underserved communities that our institutions were created to serve. We support your efforts and encourage you to keep fighting the good fight for all of America,” said Sidney King, president and CEO of Commonwealth National Bank, in a statement.
“The Minority Depository Institution and Community Bank Deposit Access Act is a welcomed first step in helping Minority Depository Institutions like our National Bankers Association member banks develop the kinds of national deposit networks that allow our institutions to compete for deposits with larger banks and to better meet the credit needs of the communities we serve. The National Bankers Association commends Senator Jones’ leadership on this issue, and we look forward to continuing to engage with him on the ultimate passage of this proposal,” said Kenneth Kelly, chairman of the National Bankers Association, in a statement.
A recent report by the Brookings Institute highlighted problems minority-owned businesses had accessing federal COVID-19 relief aid from PPP loans. Researchers found that it took seven days longer for small businesses with paid employees in majority Black zip codes to receive PPP loans, compared to majority-white communities. That gap grew to three weeks for non-employer minority-owned small businesses, the report notes.
The report also states that while minority-owned small businesses, many of which are unbanked or under banked, get approximately 80 percent of their loans from financial technology companies and online lending companies, fintechs weren’t allowed under federal law to issue PPP loans until April 14.
Tuberville campaign: Democrats’ criticism on Hurricane Sally was false
Alabama Democratic Party executive Director Wade Perry last week released a statement criticizing GOP Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville for being silent on Hurricane Sally. In response, Tuberville’s campaign manager, Paul Shashy, slammed the ADP, saying that their statement was untrue.
Shashy pointed to a recording from a radio interview with Jack Campbell on 93.1 FM in Montgomery that Tuberville made the morning after Hurricane Sally.
“Before we go any farther I want to say this, our prayers go out to the people down south, because I am telling you, we don’t really understand what they are going through,” Tuberville said. “I went through a hurricane when I was down in Miami coaching. We went through Hurricane Andrew and it was devastating for months.”
“I have talked with some mayors there. I have called them. I actually just texted them,” Tuberville said. “They are real busy. I want to let them know that we are here for them. I would go down there and work if I could; but I probably would just be in the way.”
“People are now going in from the power companies, the National Guard these people going in checking houses that are flooded,” Tuberville continued. “I have got people down there whose homes are gone. They literally washed them out.”
“It was kind of like Michael a couple of years ago, the one that hit Panama City,” Tuberville said. “Right before it gets to the land it picked up speed. It went from a one to a two. The wind is a problem, but it is really the rain that gets you in a hurricane. They got a double punch from that.”
“People don’t realize this, but it really is the county commissioners who are really in charge, and they get it all going along with the mayors, and they also have an emergency person in charge who works along with the commission,” Tuberville explained. “This is not their first rodeo down there. They know what is coming. You can’t prevent it. You just hope people get out of harm’s way.”
“There are actually more people killed after it,” Tuberville warned. “They get out too early. They try to do too much. They get on a roof and fall off. You have got to be careful.”
Hurricane Sally came ashore before dawn on Wednesday on Sept. 16 as a category two hurricane near Gulf Shores. FEMA and President Donald Trump have declared Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile Counties a disaster area.
Tuberville is a former college football coach, best known for his tenure as the Auburn University head coach. Tuberville also had stops as the head coach of Ole Miss, Texas Tech and Cincinnati as well as stops as defensive coordinator at Miami and Texas A&M.
Tuberville is challenging incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, in the Nov. 3 general election. Republicans are hopeful that Tuberville can unseat Jones, the only Democrat currently holding a statewide office in the state of Alabama.