Governor Bryant Signs Voter ID LawBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 17 May 2012 02:53pm |
A new law requiring Mississippi voters to show a photo ID could soon be on its way to the US Justice Department. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Governor Phil Bryant has signed the bill but it is unclear if the law will stand.
Key sponsors of the voter ID law gathered around Governor Phil Bryant as he signed the bill at a Thursday signing ceremony.
"It is my great honor to sign the bill that will implement initiative number 27 known as voter ID," Bryant said.
The law establishes the legal framework for Mississippi voters to show a photo ID....a requirement that was added to the state constitution by voters last fall.
Because of Mississippi's history of racial discrimination, the law cannot take effect until it is approved by the U-S Justice Department.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says he is not going to wait for the Justice Department's answer before starting efforts to implement the new law.
"We start our contact provisions in determining if there are people who may not have a driver's license that are registered to vote. We will start and outreach program you will see coming in the next two weeks or so. Where we try to go out into the counties and see if there is anyone out there that they can identify that doesn't have an ID," Hosemann said.
Similar laws in Texas and South Carolina have been rejected by the Justice Department.
Long time voting rights activist Hollis Watkins says the law will keep poor and minority voters away from the polls and is calling on the justice department to reject it.
"If this takes place and is approved, I see that is exactly what it is doing is nullifying the gains that we have had. It is also putting us on the road to going back to where we were in the 40's and 50's, at least," Watkins said.
However, some like House Elections Committee Chairman Bill Denny of Jackson are calling for an end to the Justice Department's oversight of state laws.
"It was supposed to be a 5 year plan. And it has been there now for 42 years. We have been under it, as I mentioned, and we will be now until 2032. We will be under it for 68 years. A lifetime," Denny said.
The timing of the Justice Department's answer is also important....Secretary Hosemann says a response by July could leave enough time to have the regulations in place for the November election.
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