Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mississippi’s Voter ID Plan Aims to Make It Easy to Vote But Hard to Cheat

The Mississippi Secretary of State has submitted plans to implement voter ID to the U.S. Department of Justice to render a preclearance decision.  This voter ID proposal exemplifies the standard “easy to vote but hard to cheat.” 

Those who oppose voter ID laws will find it hard to challenge Mississippi’s plan, given all the protections to ensure no eligible voter will be prevented from voting.  Here are a list of common objections to voter ID laws and Mississippi’s answers to those problems.

Objection:  Voters don’t have a list of acceptable IDs.

Answer: The list of acceptable IDs is equivalent of those under the federal law, Help America Vote Act.  A November 2012 General Election survey of 6,000 Mississippi voters showed only 0.8% of respondents reported having none of the eight forms of acceptable photo identification.  For that small percentage who don’t, free IDS are offered at Mississippi Clerk offices.

Objection:  It is difficult to travel to locations which provide free IDs.

Answer: Over 99% of citizens are within 20 miles from a Mississippi Circuit Clerk’s Office.    For those who need rides, the Mississippi Department of Transportation will provide free transportation to those clerk offices.

Objection: Obtaining underlying documentation for the free IDs is costly.

Answer: The Mississippi Department of Vital Statistics has agreed to allow Circuit Clerks to verify birth records of voters who cannot provide these materials, at no cost to the voter.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann declared, “Our Agency is proposing procedures to ensure every eligible voter who does not currently have acceptable photo ID will be able to obtain an ID easily and free of charge.”  These procedures establish a well-drafted voter ID law that the Justice Department should preclear.

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