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Elections Officials: No Voter ID in March Elections

By Daniel Cherry | Published 05 Mar 2012 07:01pm | comments

Mississippi voters will soon have to show a photo ID when they cast a ballot, but not in the primary elections coming up later this month. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how elections officials are still ironing out the details before the controversial Voter ID law goes into effect.

Mississippi's Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, says the state still hasn't filed for federal approval for the Voter ID constitutional amendment approved by voters last November. The U.S. Justice Department has to approve all changes to voting in Mississippi due to the state's history of voter discrimination. But Hosemann says Voter ID is coming soon, whether naysayers like it or not.

"They need to get over it. We had 9 public hearings. We had years of debate in Mississippi. It's been declared constitutional by the United States Supreme Court, and we voted. Majority rules, and we need to get on with it. I don't have much stock for waiting on that, I think we really need to be discussing the implementation."

Hosemann says before the state files for approval, the legislature has some work to do. Senate Elections Committee Chairman, Chris McDaniel says lawmakers have the task of building the framework for the Voter ID system.

"We have to fill in all the gaps that the constitutional amendment did not fill in. In other words, to specify precisely which government issued IDs are going to be acceptable, and also specify precisely how these IDs are going to be printed and distributed."

Officials say they want to see Voter ID in place by this November's Presidential elections. But opponents like Ricky Cole, Mississippi Democratic Party Executive Director, are skeptical the system can get ironed out in time.

"Who's to say that the guy who voted the affidavit on Tuesday is the same guy that walks in with an ID on Friday or Saturday? This sounds like a good idea until you dig into it, but the Devil's in the details, and there's a lot of devilish details involving voter ID in Mississippi."

Late last year, the Justice Department denied preclearance to South Carolina's voter ID system because lack of photo ID disproportionately affected African Americans.

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