Free voter IDs offered

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Alabamians who don’t have a valid photo ID can solve that problem for free beginning this week and thanks to a law that takes effect later this year.

Virginia Merritt, chairperson of the Covington County Board of Registrars, said a law passed in 2011 requiring voters to have photo IDs to cast their ballots also allows her office to dispense non-driver IDs free of charge.

Merritt said the process is just like the one used at probate offices with one difference – to get the ID for free, you must register to vote.

“If someone comes in and doesn’t have a photo ID, we will make one for them for free,” Merritt said. “They have to register to vote, and then they will get a temporary ID here in the office and we will mail out the permanent one.”

Merritt said she expects a big turnout for the free IDs, especially during an election year, but said any photo ID will work for registered voters when the primary rolls around on June 3.

The free, non-driver IDs are being offered in every county in Alabama to help voters meet guidelines of the new law, which also takes effect on June 3.

“Before this you had to have an ID or just a Social Security number to vote,” Merritt said. “Now you need the ID, but we can do it here pretty fast.”

The secretary of state’s office reports 20 percent of Alabama’s registered voters, or about 500,000 adults, do not have a driver’s license or non-driver ID issued by the Department of Public Safety.

In addition to the new program, Merritt said a mobile unit dispatched by the state will visit each of Alabama’s 67 counties beginning Mon., March 17, although a formal schedule has not yet been released.

Anyone wishing to receive a free ID may visit the Board of Registrar’s Office, located inside the Covington County Administration Building, located at 260 Hillcrest Drive in Andalusia. Officer hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Merritt said applicants should bring documents showing their full names, dates of birth and addresses.