Lawmaker Mocks Black Ex-Marine Hit By Voter Disenfranchising Law: ‘Some People Enjoy Being A Victim’


mike ball

When Alabama lawmakers voted in 2011 to require photo IDs in order to cast a ballot, they assured critics that IDs would be readily accessible to anyone in the state who needed them, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status.

But after Republicans voted en masse last month to close 31 driver’s license offices — the vast majority of which serve the rural, largely black areas of Alabama — at least one lawmaker is now blaming disenfranchised citizens for their civic difficulties because, in his words, “government can’t solve all your problems.”

On Monday, State Rep. Mike Ball (R) appeared on the Dale Jackson Show, an Alabama radio program, to discuss an article on that explored the impact these closures would have in Alabama’s poorest county. The article profiled Kimberly Spruell, a 34-year-old African-American former marine living in Wilcox County, whose local driver’s license office was among those shuttered. The closest one is now a 45-minute drive away, a difficult and costly journey considering her car broke down months ago and she now shares one vehicle with five other people.

Ball, despite voting in favor of the budget that closed the DMVs, had no sympathy for the difficulties people like Spruell would now face.

“The purpose [of these articles] is to complain, blame somebody else for all their problems,” Ball told Jackson. He went on that “It’s almost as if some people enjoy being a victim. They want somebody else to do everything for them. That’s a miserable way to live. You’re going to be miserable and you’re going to bring misery to everyone around you.”

Ball criticized people like Spruell for blaming government for certain problems and looking to government to solve them. “What I’m saying is government can’t solve all of your problems,” Ball said.

In response to claims that the closures would disproportionately impact African-Americans, Ball was dismissive. “What this is really about is where you choose to live. In more rural areas, things are not as convenient.”

Jackson asked Ball repeatedly (and facetiously) what the lawmaker would do for people like Spruell. “The real question is what is she going to do?” Ball responded. “I’m 200 miles away, there’s not much I can do.” Instead, when a caller suggested Spruell should just walk to her polling place, Ball saw a silver lining. “Maybe she needs to resurrect some of her marine corps gung-ho.”

Listen to a clip (the full interview can be found here):

There are an estimated 250,000 residents of Alabama who lack photo ID. Currently, less than 7,000 voter ID cards have been issued by state officials.

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), the state’s lone African-American member of Congress, has called for a federal investigation into the DMV closures and whether it would result in voter suppression. The NAACP has also raised concern about the closures, saying the move is a “likely violation” of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.


Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress