Voter ID could hurt 48K in Mississippi

Published 11:37 pm Sunday, July 22, 2012

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippians could make up 10 percent of all Americans impeded from voting by new voter identification laws.

The Brennan Center for Justice estimates that 48,000 low-income Mississippians could have trouble obtaining a government-issued photo identification in order to vote.

Overall, the center estimates that 500,000 people across 10 states could face challenges from “restrictive” voter ID laws.

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The Brennan Center, located at New York University School of Law, focuses on voter participation and similar public policy issues.

“Every American citizen should have the opportunity to vote, but these restrictive laws could make it harder for hundreds of thousands to exercise that right,’ said Sundeep Iyer, co-author of the report, which was released Wednesday.

The study comes as the new photo ID law is still awaiting approval by either the U.S Department of Justice or the federal courts to ensure that it does not negatively affect minority voting. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has said he doesn’t expect approval in time for the November general election.

The Justice Department recently rejected similar laws in other states, though Hosemann has said extra steps are being taken in Mississippi to ensure people are not denied access to voting by the new law.

For instance, in Mississippi, photo identifications from public universities will be acceptable identification. A rejected Texas law did not allow them.

Hosemann has also launched an effort designed to provide assistance to people in obtaining a photo identification.

Earlier this year, he announced his office was sending out 5,000 posters and 10,000 postcards across the state asking people who might need assistance obtaining a photo identification to contact his office.

Earlier this month, Hosemann sent out a news release saying his office had been contacted by 75 people and 35 of those people had no identification. He said those people will be offered transportation to a location to obtain a photo identification once the new law is approved by federal officials.