3Qs: Delbert Hoesemann, Mississippi secretary of state

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

Mississippi voters in November 2011 approved a requirement that people display a government-issued photo identification to vote, but before it goes into effect it still must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal courts. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees elections in Mississippi, discussed voter ID implementation with the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison.

Q. What is the latest on the Mississippi voter photo identification law? Where does it stand in the process?
A. The U.S. Department of Justice asked for additional information in October to consider before preclearing Mississippi’s constitutional voter ID law. We will submit all the final regulations Jan. 11 to the Justice Department at the end of the 30-day public comment time for the regulations. We will ask the department to preclear based on the proposed regulations that are extensively researched based on a survey done on election day last month.

Q. Assuming the law is finally approved by the Justice Department or by the federal courts, what would be the next step? What is your office doing to get ready for it?
A. We released our expert research from the election day survey this past Wednesday. It showed that basically 98.3 percent of the population have a voter ID and only 0.8 percent had no ID and 0.9 percent refused to answer the question. We have released the regulations for implementation of voter ID.
We signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Vital Records to provide pre-verification of birth certificates in Mississippi and 45 other states for each circuit clerk’s office for free. We finished a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Transportation to use their network to provide free transportation. We will arrange for transportation in counties not covered by MDOT.

Q. You have yet to ask for any state funding to enact the law. Will that be an issue during the 2013 legislative session? How much money do you think it will take?
A. We are going over the implementation budget now. I expect that to be less than $200,000 which will include all of the cameras in the circuit clerk’s offices and the creation of the free voter ID.
It also will include outreach and training and a marketing budget … We will be submitting it to the Legislature before the session.