U.S. Justice Dept. to Examine Voter ID ImplementationBy Daniel Cherry | Published 14 Nov 2011 06:29pm |
Before Mississippi can move ahead with requiring voter identification at the polls, there are still hills to climb. MBP's Daniel Cherry reports how the state can't implement the amendment without first getting approval from the Department of Justice.
Officials will soon be filing a proposal with the U.S. Department of Justice to require Voter ID during Mississippi elections. Chris Whitmire is the Director of Public Information with the South Carolina Election Commission. His state recently passed a similar law, and he says the Justice Department will have plenty of questions for election officials in Mississippi.
"What will happen at the polling place? What will voters be asked at the polling place when they go to the sign-in table? What if they don't have their ID? How will that be handled? The law requires us to implement a photo voter registration card. How will these cards be issued? What will people need to show to get one of these cards?"
A history of voter suppression and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 means Mississippi has to go through the Justice Department before making adjustments to elections. Derrick Johnson is President of the Mississippi NAACP. He says they're watching the issue closely.
"We will be participating in that process by raising any concerns that we have. There is nothing taking place in our electoral process that voter ID would prevent. It's simply a vote suppression method, and we hope the Justice Department will not preclear such a method."
Voters will be able to obtain a photo ID at no cost from the state. Mississippi Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann says this is one way they're trying to comply with Justice Department regulations.
"I think you'll see an aggressive approach from us to make sure we have no one that is required by the Constitution to have this kind of ID has any impediment to obtaining that ID for free from the State of Mississippi. So ours will be a little bit different from others, but we want to do the most voter friendly implementation that we can."
Hosemann says it's likely to be a year before voter ID can be implemented during an election.
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