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What Does The Texas Voter ID Ruling Mean For Mississippi?

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Sep 2012 01:15pm | comments
Gov. Phil Bryant Signs the voter ID law earlier in 2012.

The future of Mississippi's newly approved voter ID law could be growing more uncertain. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports a recent ruling by a federal court striking down a Texas voter ID law could have an impact on how courts and the Federal Justice Department view Mississippi's law.

A federal court struck down a Texas law requiring potential voters to show certain forms of photo identification saying it placed quote-"strict unforgiving burdens on the poor and racial minorities".

Bear Atwood with the Mississippi ACLU says if that is true in Texas, it is certainly true in Mississippi.

"The thing that makes Mississippi unique is not just that we are rural and poor, we are the poorest state in the country. This is the state where the more people will be disenfranchised because they are poor. And many poor people in Mississippi are African-American," Atwood said.

The ACLU and other civil rights groups have argued Mississippi's voter ID law...which was passed during the most recent legislative session...raises too many barriers and implicit costs to Mississippi's access to the ballot box.

Senate Elections Committee Chairman Chris McDaniel of Ellisville does not believe there is a comparison between the laws, arguing Mississippi's is much less strict.

McDaniel says the Mississippi law allows more forms of ID and ways to get a photo I-D such as Medicaid and Medicare cards.

"If someone is impoverished enough than theoretically, one would think, on Medicaid. In other words, I think once you look at the law in practice in Mississippi based on the close proximity of the registrars. And on the light burden, if any, on people that need to obtain a free ID. I think ultimately these laws are going to be OK," McDaniel said.

The Department of Justice had also rejected the Texas law, and officials appealed to the federal court.

Because of a history of racial discrimination, the DOJ is currently reviewing Mississippi's law.

McDaniel says he agrees with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and expects the law to be rejected by the DOJ, but believes the US Supreme Court will step in and find the laws constitutional.

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Gov. Phil Bryant Signs the voter ID law earlier in 2012.


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