Tears and Laughter: Voter ID is not the issue in Wilcox County


(Photos by Amanda Walker)

Sometimes, when I listen to Wilcox County being discussed on state or national news outlets, I can’t help but wonder where in the world is this ungodly place they are talking about. Wilcox has a history. And the current reality is very much different from the past. Even in poor remote Wilcox County the Civil War has ended, and 1964 was over 50 years ago. The ferry has not recently been burnt in an attempt to keep people from crossing the river to register to vote. All of the people involved with that type of behavior are dead now, or far too old to matter anymore.

Today in Wilcox County almost all of the elected county officials are black. But, if there should be anybody dumb enough to try and keep anybody from voting in Wilcox County again, both races will stand together and stop it. It is not that place of old anymore. We’ve just got to figure out how to quit voting incompetent leaders into office.voting

Anyone from Point Clear to the northernmost coast of Maine wanting to write about the voter ID situation in Wilcox County needs to look into the number of elected officials who were voted into office by illegal absentee votes. Research the full history of the race between David Wright and Reginald Southall from the 90s. Study every local election here for the past 36 years and check out how many races were swung by huge numbers of absentees.

Then there was that little pesky matter back in 2011 when Clifford “Big Don” Twilley was convicted without punishment for buying votes, and Wilcox is one of several counties in the Black Belt that has more registered voters than residents. During last year’s election there were 21 registered voters requesting absentee ballots from the address of a single-wide mobile home. It is not very difficult to vote in Wilcox County. We have people whose relatives continue to cast their vote for them long after they die. These are only a few of the reasons a voter ID law became necessary.

Candidates running for office here will frequently pay a community organizer to go door to door and collect absentee ballot requests. This practice has become so common candidates in some districts believe they cannot be competitive without having someone working to collect absentees. And it is not the brightest stars and sharpest tools that get elected using these tactics. Poor leadership and corruption mixed with disorganization are responsible for many of the problems Wilcox now faces.

Since the driver’s license offices closed across the state, there have been numerous officials and advocates stepping forward in defense of these reportedly thousands of people in the Black Belt wanting to a voter ID. There are supposed to be over two thousand in Wilcox alone, but they can’t get a ride to the registrar’s office.

Where are all of these people? As soon as the voter ID Law passed a mobile unit from the Secretary of State’s office toured Wilcox County twice in search of anyone in need of a voter ID. The Secretary of State at the time, Jim Bennett, came too. There were not lines of people then, and there are not lines of people now. Free rural transportation has been available for over 20 years on demand in Wilcox County for those in need of a ride to the registrar’s office.

Getting an ID is not an issue…our pressing issue for now, is finding a way to save Roland Cooper State Park.

Amanda Walker is a columnist with The West Alabama Watchman, Al.com, The Thomasville Times, and The Wilcox Progressive Era. For more information, visit her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmandaWalker.Columnist.