Implementing Voter ID

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

How Mississippians voted last November during state elections may be a little different this coming November for the presidential election.

That's when Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann hopes to have Mississippi's voter identification law in place, requiring voters to show an ID to cast a ballot.

"We want to make sure everybody has an ID to vote," Secretary of State Hosemann said.

Hosemann says that's going to take a lot of work and before anything can happen, the legislature must first pass legislation giving the go ahead and put about $500,000 in place to help fund the process which Hosemann says it will take to put an ID in the hands of those Mississippians who currently don't have one.

That money would put cameras in every courthouse across the state for access to a picture.

Even though Hosemann says it's most likely less than one percent of the population without an ID, the plan is to get church and civic organizations involved to get out in their communities and find folks.

"We want to identify those, go knock on their door, get them either the sign an affidavit and give them a waiver or get them down to the courthouse where they can get their picture taken for free and give them an ID," Secretary of State Hosemann said.

Once the plan is in place and legislation passed, the state must be cleared by the Justice department before the law can take affect. Still, not everyone is quite sold on the idea.

"This sounds like a good idea until you dig into it, but the devil is in the details and there are a lot of devilish details involving voter ID in Mississippi," said Rickey Cole, Democratic Party Executive Director.

Cole says voter ID may become just as much a burden as a benefit.

"The implementation is going to be really problematic," Cole said. "I think it's going to be a really tough sell to the people out there once they understand how many steps are involved with this."

Even with critics of the new law; Hosemann says it'll happen, like it or not and Mississippians will be seeing election reform when they return to the polls.

"They need to get over it," Secretary of State Hosemann said. "You know, we had nine public hearings. We had years of debate in Mississippi. It's be declared constitutional by the united states supreme court and we voted."

The legislation needed to get the process moving passed a House committee already is now awaiting debate on the house floor.

Justice Department approval can take months and Hosemann says he will ask that the state's application be expedited so the new law can be in place for November's election.

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