By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said his office will be working this month with county circuit clerks to ensure they are ready to start issuing voter identification cards in January.
Government-issued photo identification will be needed to vote for the first time in the state during the June 3 congressional primary elections.
“We are dedicated to ensuring anyone who does not have an acceptable ID receives one at no cost,”said Hosemann who held a news conference in his state Capitol office Monday to tout “a massive voter outreach campaign to inform the public of the requirement.”
More than 62 percent of state voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2008 requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote.
The outreach campaign will include public service announcements and a commitment by Hosemann to ensure free transportation to the courthouse to obtain a voter ID for people who request it. Television commercials explaining the process were slated to begin Monday.
Cameras are being installed in circuit clerks’ offices for the purpose of providing the voter ID. He said the Legislature has appropriated $226,000 to his office for the outreach campaign and to purchase the cameras.
Rickey Cole, chair of the state Democratic Party, attended Hosemann’s news conference and praised the outreach effort of the Republican secretary of state.
Still, “I think it is a solution in search of a problem like I have said before,” Cole said, adding few if any documented cases of people claiming to vote as someone else exist. Cole and others have contended that voter ID could make some elderly African- Americans, who can remember a time when the state denied their voting rights, uncomfortable at the polls.
Cole predicted that the outreach effort would cost more than $226,000 and most likely would require an annual appropriation by the Legislature.
Cole did not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit to try to block the enactment of the law.
Hosemann said research conducted by his office concluded that less than 2 percent of voters in recent elections did not have the type of identification the law will require.
Hosemann said under the law people with a driver’s license and at least eight other forms of ID will be allowed to vote without getting additional identification. The other forms of ID that can be used to vote include a student ID from an accredited Mississippi university or college, a passport, a government employee ID card, a tribal photo ID, a military ID card and others.
He stressed people with those forms of ID do not need to take any additional steps.
“This is a historic moment for Mississippi,” Hosemann said. “As I have said before we are not your father’s father’s Mississippi.” He said he would work to ensure no one is discriminated against in obtaining the voter ID or in the voting process.