By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – In the June 3 party primaries, 513 Mississippians voted by affidavit ballot because they did not have government-issued photo identification.
Of that number, 177 returned by the Tuesday deadline with a photo ID so that their vote would count, according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who oversees Mississippi elections.
Hosemann said 13 had their ballots rejected for other reasons, such as not being a registered voter. And he said he did not have results from three counties on the numbers who returned by the Tuesday deadline.
At a news conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday, the Republican secretary of state said the low number who showed up at the polls without an ID and the lower number who did not provide an ID before the Tuesday deadline prove that the requirement of Mississippians to display an ID to vote is not burdensome.
The June 3 Republican and Democratic primaries for the U.S. Senate and for U.S. House seats were the first elections where voter ID was required in the state.
“We found no one was denied the right to vote in Mississippi,” said Hosemann, who said the effort culminates months of work to ensure people were informed about the requirement and that election officials were trained on how to enforce the new law.
A total of more than 397,800 people voted in the two party primaries, according to unofficial returns from The Associated Press.
In Lee County, two people voted by affidavit without an ID and one of those showed up by Tuesday with an ID. The numbers of voters who did not have ID across Northeast Mississippi was generally low. In Monroe County, five voted by affidavit and none of those returned by Tuesday, but in Pontotoc County, four voted without an ID and all returned by Tuesday with an ID to ensure their votes were counted.
Mississippi voters approved the ID requirement during the 2011 election.
Hosemann said the response to the voter ID requirement in Mississippi was unprecedented when compared with problems that in other states.
“We are very pleased with the numbers,” he said. “They reflect Mississippi is able to conduct its own elections.”
Hosemann said he was not aware of anyone who showed up to vote without an ID and left without casting an affidavit ballot, though there were reports of that on election day. He also discounted the possibility that there were people eligible to vote but who did not because they did not have a government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or student ID card.
He said his office and county circuit clerks made efforts to ensure people who did not have an ID could get one free of charge. People could get an ID at the circuit clerk’s offices, and Hosemann said his office took a number of steps, such as reaching out to various groups and advertising, to let people know they could get a free ride to the courthouse to get an ID if they did not have transportation.
He said a little less than 2,000 IDs statewide were issued, including between 80 and 90 on election day.
People can still get an ID before the June 24 runoff, a hotly contested U.S. Senate race between incumbent Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville.
The Republican and Democratic parties must have their election results certified by Friday under state law. After that, official ballots must be printed. Until then, absentee ballots are not available, though a person who is eligible to vote absentee can request one that the circuit clerk can mail when it is available, according to Hosemann’s office.