By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann indicated Monday that his office will make every effort to ensure people with no identification are contacted before Mississippi’s new voter ID law is enacted.
“We want to make sure everybody has an ID to vote,” said Hosemann, speaking at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/Capitol Press Corps luncheon.
Hosemann said his goal is to have the new voter ID law enacted by the November general election. It will not be used for the March 13 primaries.
Voters approved an ID initiative last November, making it part of the Mississippi Constitution that a person must display a state-issued photo identification to vote. Bills are pending in the Legislature that would further define how the provision would be enacted.
Under the bill that passed the House Apportionment and Elections Committee, locations to obtain a state-issued ID would be established in the circuit clerk’s office in each county courthouse and at locations where the Department of Public Safety issues driver’s licenses.
The legislation listed various types of identification, such as a driver’s license, a student ID from an accredited university or college, or a passport, as acceptable to vote. But for people who might not have one of these, the courthouse and Public Safety locations would provide an ID free of charge.
Hosemann said he intends for his office to work with churches and other groups to go door to door to locate people who might not have an ID. He said he believes it will cost the state about $500,000 to provide IDs to people without them.
The voter ID law must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice or the federal courts. Hosemann said once legislation is passed, Mississippi’s voter ID provisions will be submitted.
The Justice Department recently rejected South Carolina’s voter ID law on grounds it discriminated against minority voters and the poor. The matter is now in the courts.