Voter ID fight must overcome history

Published 12:03am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Maybe it’s not a coincidence that on the same week the university bearing the state’s name commemorated the wrongdoing of many residents, word came that the federal government issued an ugly reminder to Mississippi that they’ve not yet forgotten.

The U.S. Department of Justice was the primary backer of a young, black James Meredith when he walked onto the University of Mississippi campus 50 years ago, head held high despite a completely riotous circus around him.

The DOJ was correct then; Meredith did have every right to attend Ole Miss.

Tuesday, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced that the DOJ had requested from him more information proving that a new voter identification law wouldn’t discriminate.

Most Mississippians — according to the ballot box — think the DOJ was wrong this time.

But right and wrong may not be the primary concern.

It’s more about perception and history.

Only because of Mississippi’s reputation as a state that did not provide equal rights to black residents when the federal government said they must does this matter of voter ID even involve the DOJ.

The state is one of a few required to get federal approval for any changes to election laws and practices.

Grassroots petitions in support of voter ID initially started the process several years ago.

The ID requirement was on the state ballot in November 2011, and it passed easily.

In the spring, the Mississippi Legislature voted to put an amendment to the Mississippi Constitution requiring ID at the polls into law.

Then the quest for DOJ approval began.

Since that time, the justice department has rejected similar laws in other states, and it comes as no shocker that the Mississippi law won’t be approved in time for the November election.

But instead of pouting about it, blaming partisan politics and in general griping, Mississippi supporters of voter ID have only one choice.

Accept it, and begin the task of providing proof that this law will not disenfranchise anyone.

Many think that proof has already been offered, but the DOJ apparently disagrees. And if you take off your political hat, step outside of Mississippi and view the situation as a completely unattached outsider, you can’t blame them.

In 1962, Mississippi fought — hard — to ensure that a black man couldn’t attend their prized white school.

Those of us living here today know that most Mississippians have moved well beyond those days, but we’ve failed time and time again to prove that fact to those outside our state.

We’ll continue to pay the price for that perception forever in some ways, but taking issues one at a time and addressing them with facts, figures and examples, not emotions, is the only way to truly put the past in the past.

Our state needs voter identification at the polls. It reduces fraud in our most important democratic moment.

But we don’t need to leave even one voter at home on Election Day using the excuse that they don’t have an ID.

If it takes going door-by-door to put legal IDs in the hands of all of our residents, that’s what we need to do.

The DOJ didn’t say, no, but they haven’t said yes either.

Look no further than James Meredith himself when you wonder what a Mississippian who knows right from wrong should do in order to hear “yes.”

 

Julie Cooper is the managing editor of The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3551 or julie.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.

 

  • Anonymous

    One must have photo ID to get into political rallies, to get services at a hospital, to open a bank account, to get on an airplane, to attend the Democrat, Republican, and NAACP conventions, etc, etc, so to deny the voters of the country the security of knowing that their vote will count and not be rendered null and void by the cheaters. That there is cheating is well documented in legal cases across the country and to deny such causes one to question your true motives.

    Many claim it will be so hard for those without an existing photo ID to get one yet fail to ever actually produce those people. I, for one, am tired of the old claim about disenfranchising voters, implying that it is worse to not allow one legitimate vote than it is to enable 10 illegitimate votes. I actually prefer disinterested voters not vote and if you are disinterested enough to not go out and get your photo ID then you are not likely interested enough to cast an informed vote. The courts are ruling on a thought, a theory, not a proven problem that oh so many are going to be disenfranchised. No they would rather perpetuate a system that has been proven, time and again in court, to be misused and abused, one only need look at the thousands of registrations falsely made by the group ACORN for example. I believe it was in Wisconsin where in a close election it was found that there were over twice as many illegal registrations than what the final vote difference ended up being.

    If I had my druthers the entire country would have to re-register once every 10 to15 years. The right to vote is so important that requiring regular re-registration to purge and validate the rolls would not be an inconvenience to me at all. I already have to re-register my vehicle every year by paying my tag fee and I have to renew my driver’s license every few years in person so my photo on that license can be updated. Thinking about it, you even have to get a photo ID to shop at a Sam’s Club.

    In all honesty, I believe the votes that the mandatory use of photo ID would disenfranchise would most likely be the illegal votes which is the idea and the reason there is such vehement opposition.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, Julie but that is utter nonsense. For every fraudulent vote cast, one legal voter is disenfranchised and his or her valid vote stolen. I can look at this from the outside, inside, other side, broad side, sunny side or flip side. My opinion remains the same. Legal voters need their votes protected and voter ID is the way to do it. And remember, this is the same DOJ who had no problem with Black Panthers armed with billy-clubs standing outside of polling places. You’ll forgive me if I don’t put much faith in their motives.

  • Anonymous

    IN MISSISSIPPI THERE ARE A GROUP OF PEOPLE THAT WORKS OVER-TIME TRYING TO HOLD ON TO THE PAST. THERE SKULL IS SO THICK THERE’S NO WAY RIGHT CAN ENTER. I REALLY COULD UNDERSTAND VOTER ID BETTER IF THERE HAD BEEN FRAUD AT THE POLLS. WHAT I CAN’T UNDERSTAND, AND CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP ME WITH IT. THAT GROUP WITH THOSE THICK SKULLS, DO THEY NOT REALIZE WHAT THEY ARE DOING IS MAKING IT BAD FOR THERE KIDS, GRANDKIDS AND GREATGRANDKIDS. MANY OF THEM DON’T KNOW WHY THIS WAR IS GOING ON, AND WHO STARTED IT. WHEN THE YOUNG KIDS SAY THINGS LIKE, ” I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING TO CREATE THIS”, OR WHY BLACK PEOPLE ALWAYS FIGHTING FOR THERE RIGHTS. THEY ARE COMPLETLY LOST TO WHAT CREATED THIS. SOME OF THOSE SAME KIDS PARENTS ARE SOME OF THOSE WITH THAT THICK SKULL. WE HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH ID. JUST GIVE US ENOUGH TIME TO ENSURE EVERYONE THAT WANTS A ID CAN GET IT. IF THAT’S ONE WAY TO HELP MITT TO WIN, HE MIGHT AS WELL DROP OUT NOW. AFTER PRESIDENT OBAMA SECOND TERM, YOU WANT HEAR NOT ONE WORD ABOUT VOTER’S ID. THEY ARE SO DUMB. THEY ALWAYS COME UP WITH PENNY-ANNY EXCUSES LIKE KIDS. THE WAY THEY CONDUCT THEMSELVES WILL MAKE YOUR HAIR STAND UP ON YOUR HEAD. LET ME GET READY TO SEE MITT GET STUMPED AGAIN TONIGHT.

  • Anonymous

    So, by your “logic” we should not close the barn door until we can show that the horses have escaped? Hey, genius, the idea is to PREVENT fraud from happening, not do something after it becomes as common as dirt. Tell you what, don’t lock your doors until AFTER someone steals your TV. It’s a bit to late, then, isn’t it?

    Why is this a matter of race with you? You’d think you’d be worried all those evil Republicans might be cheating at the polls and want your vote protected. Why do you default to the assumption that it is black democrats who are the targets of attempts to curb cheating? I find that very interesting and very telling. In your ignorance I think you reveal more than you realize.

  • Anonymous

    …votes protected and voter PHOTO ID is the way to do it. IMO, you got to have the picture.

  • highroler

    Voter id is a form of poll tax. Miss. Is trying hard to go back to jim crow. We have to think about all the blacks that were lynched in miss. For trying to vote. Think about the three civil right workers in neshoba county. Think about mr. Jackson in natchez

  • highroler

    Voter id is racist. id. This id thong is racist

  • Anonymous

    DD – It’s Their skull, not There skull. You of all people shouldn’t be saying WHOHASATHICKSKULL.

    if voting is important to you, have the same person that drives you to the polls drive you to get a photo ID. If it requires a photo ID to check into a Motel 6, it should be required when voting.

  • Anonymous

    So, you are saying that black people are not as capable as white people? How is obtaining a free ID a form of “poll tax”? And lastly, what in the world do lynchings have to do with getting a free photo ID to enable people to identify themselves at the polls?

  • highroler

    If miss. Has did without voter id all these years why now. Blacks were lynched over trying to vote. If it was left to state of miss. Blacks wouldnt be voting today. Without the federal govt. Miss. Would still be have jim crow laws. Blacks couldnt vote in miss. Until after 1965 voter rights bill. Everything in miss. Boils down to race.