By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, striving to get the state’s new voter ID law approved by federal officials, Thursday criticized a national study claiming nearly 50,000 low-income Mississippians could have trouble voting under the law.
The study of 10 states where voter ID requirements have been put in place was released last week by the Brennan Center for Justice, which is located at New York University School of Law.
At the time the study was released, Hosemann’s office chose not to comment. But on Thursday, the Republican secretary of state did comment.
“Our state takes seriously its obligations to qualified voters,” Hosemann said in a statement. “We are working to identify all citizens who may not have an ID, to assist with transportation to a local courthouse, and to provide a completely free voter ID. Sixty-six individuals have contacted our office thus far indicating a need for a voter ID.”
The study was released as the state is working to obtain federal approval, as required by law, to ensure the change in how Mississippi elections are conducted does not negatively impact minority voting.
The study concluded about 750,000 eligible voters live more than 10 miles from a Mississippi Highway Patrol site where the photo identifications can be obtained. But Hosemann pointed out the plan is to install a camera in each county courthouse so that IDs can be obtained there, though money has yet to be appropriated for that effort.
The study said more than 48,000 potential Mississippi voters lack access to a vehicle and the state has limited or no public transportation in most areas. Hosemann called the Brennan Center figures “fraudulent.”
He also said the study was flawed by claiming there would be an expense to Mississippians by requiring them to obtain a birth certificate in order to get a photo identification from the state. He said circuit clerks will be able to access birth certificate information via the Internet without people actually having to obtain a birth certificate.
The photo ID requirement was approved by more than 60 percent of Mississippi voters this past November.