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Study: Voter ID Could Be Challenging For Thousands of Mississippians

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 19 Jul 2012 05:12pm | comments
Governor Phil Bryant signing the law earlier this year.

Nearly 50-thousand Mississippians could face big hurdles to getting a photo ID in order to vote.  MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that's according to a new study from the Brennan Center For Justiceat New York University School of law.

The Brennan Center for Justice study says 750-thousand Mississippians live more than 10-miles from an I-D issuing site with regular hours.

Of that group, 48-thousand do not have access to a vehicle says study author Sundeep Iyer.

"There is no other state with a restrictive voter ID law where a greater concentration of people is located more than 10 miles from their nearest ID-issuing office. The voter ID law is going to impose a particularly substantial burden in part because many of these voters are going to have difficulty getting to an ID office since rural public transportation options are often quite limited," Iyer said.

Iyer also says the law creates a catch-22 scenario because it requires a birth certificate to get a photo ID and a photo ID in order to get a copy of a birth certificate.

"The cost of a birth certificate in Mississippi is 15-dollars. Married women who changed their last name and their birth certificate does not reflect might need to get a marriage license. And the cost of a marriage could range from 5-to-25 dollars. Voters could be looking at a fairly hefty bill if they want to get that free ID," Iyer said.

62-percent of Mississippi voters supported a voter I-D amendment last fall, and law makers approved the law during the 2012 legislative session.

It is currently under review by the U-S Justice Department in order to verify that it complies with the voting rights act.

"What we are doing is constitutional. And therefore in the end it will be proven constitutional,"

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says the state is aware of the geographical challenges and is taking steps to address that issue.

"In Texas, they rejected the Texas appeal saying it was geographically too difficult for people to get where they needed to get in order to get an ID. In that case Mississippi is already a head of the game because we are going to have them in every county courthouse and every highway department," Hosemann said.

There is no precise count of how many Mississippians do not have proper I-D but Hosemann says since Georgia put its law into effect they issued 25-thousand voter I-Ds in a state with a population of 10-million.

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Governor Phil Bryant signing the law earlier this year.


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