Proposed rules for voter ID were sent to the Department of Justice for approval this past Tuesday.
As part of the state’s process of seeking federal approval for voter ID, proposed rules for the new law were sent to the United States Department of Justice for approval this past Tuesday.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann submitted these rules, and if approved, this law would require every voter to show a driver’s license or other photo ID at the polls.
Due to the American Voting Rights Act, the state of Mississippi is required to have any changes in voting procedures approved by the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Political science professor Samuel Gedman said he believes the voter ID legislation will be just another obstacle voters have to face during elections.
“They have to get a license, or sign something up, they might be worried if they have warrants or bad tickets, they might not understand how the system works, so the way of getting voter ID is another restriction to their participation,” Gedman said.
Associate professor of law Matthew Hall expressed a similar opinion.
“Requiring voter ID is a hurdle that people have to clear before they can go vote,” Hall said.
“This limits the ability of every voter to exercise their right to vote.”
Gedman also said voter ID is just a way of keeping minorities and transient people, like students, who may have relocated, from voting.
Supporters of voter ID say that it would deter people from committing voter fraud, but critics say there is very little evidence of voter fraud.
“The first problem is that voter fraud is not a prevalent problem,” Hall said.
Hall added that in many election cycles around the country there are fewer than 100 instances of voter fraud. People who are not eligible may try to vote, but they are not committing fraud.
Under the proposed rules, any voter who lacks an acceptable photo ID may obtain a free voter photo ID card from a Mississippi Circuit Clerk’s Office by presenting the same identification materials accepted when an individual registers to vote under the federal Help America Vote Act, according to a press release from the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State’s Office has entered into an agreement with the Department of Vital Statistics to allow Circuit Clerks to verify birth records of voters who cannot provide these materials at no cost to the voter.
The Secretary of State’s Office has also entered into an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Transportation to use existing transportation services to provide free transportation for voters who need free voter ID cards but lack transportation to the Circuit Clerk’s Office.