Secretary of State Hosemann: Voter ID turnout steady in MississippiPublished 12:13am Thursday, April 24, 2014
NATCHEZ — Nearly 700 people statewide have received the free voter IDs in advance of the first election that will require them.
Of those 700, five were from Adams County, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said.
The June 3 primary election will be the first to require voter ID in Mississippi. The voter ID law was passed in November 2012 by 62 percent of voters in that election.
Speaking to the Natchez Rotary Club Wednesday, Hosemann said he believes Mississippi has avoided a lawsuit from the U.S. Justice Department for the ID law — something other states that recently enacted voter ID laws have not — because he made it a point to go to Washington, D.C., and seek guidance on how to implement the new law.
“At the end (of the Washington, D.C., meeting), I asked them, ‘Has anybody ever come to you before when they started this process?’” Hosemann said. “They said, ‘No,’ and I said, ‘Well, we are going to work with you because we believe in the Constitution in Mississippi.”
After the initial meeting and in response to subsequent lawsuits filed against other states, Mississippi sought guidance from the Justice Department, Hosemann said.
Some of the things Mississippi did to ensure the implementation was as painless as possible was to offer free IDs and birth certificates to those who needed them and arrange for free transportation to the free ID manufacturing locations for those who need it.
The Secretary of State’s office had also deployed pollsters during the 2011 governor’s election with orders to poll voters in a way that would reflect the 2010 federal census and ask if they had an ID.
“They interviewed 6,000 citizens,” Hosemann said. “Of those, 0.8 percent voting in the governor’s race did not have an ID. That kind of took the wind out of the Justice Department’s sails.”
But because the issue was a contentious one, Hosemann said his office made an effort to meet with leaders from religious communities and sent out letters to churches, asking them to help inform the public about the law.
“We felt like our faith-based community was our caretaker communities, and they would know those people who needed an ID to vote,” he said.
After the effort, Hosemann said he is not hearing as much hostility to voter ID as he did before.
Still, Hosemann said there is no guarantee the Justice Department will not sue the state tomorrow.
“Most critical to me is we as a group of citizens made a decision to amend our (state) Constitution, and we have made an effort to be fair as we move forward,” he said.
Acceptable forms of ID for voting include:
• Driver’s license.
• Photo ID issued by a branch, department or agency of the State of Mississippi.
• U.S. Passport.
• Employee ID issued by the U.S. Government, State of Mississippi or local government entity.
• Firearms permit.
• Tribal photo ID card.
• U.S. military photo ID card.
• Student photo ID card issued by an accredited Mississippi university, college or community college.
• Any other form of photo ID issued by a branch, department or agency of the U.S. government or any other state government, such as a driver’s license from another state. Out-of-state driver’s licenses and expired license no older than 10 years are acceptable.
Those who need a voter ID can get one at the circuit clerk’s office by presenting:
• Any expired but valid document issued by the U.S. government or any U.S. state that shows the voter’s name and photograph.
• A birth certificate or other document with the voter’s full name, date and place of birth.
• A Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid card.
• A Mississippi voter registration card.
• A government check, utility bill, bank statement or utility bill issued within the preceding six months.
• IRS form W-2, wages and tax statements issued within the current calendar year.
Elections on the June 3 ballot in Adams County include the Democratic and Republican U.S. Senate primaries.