Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann visited the Lowndes County Courthouse Monday to supervise the installation of voter ID equipment at Circuit Clerk Haley Salazar’s office.
Beginning next June during federal primary elections, all registered voters in Mississippi will need some form of identification to cast a ballot. Of Lowndes County’s estimated 38,000 registered voters, Hosemann said about 380 of them, or 1 percent, may not have a picture ID. Starting next month, those few can come to the courthouse and get an ID made free of charge so they can cast a ballot.
Hosemann said he wanted to make sure everyone eligible to vote had an opportunity to do so. A voter ID hotline, 1-855-868-3745, will be set up so anyone who needs transportation can call and arrange a free ride to the courthouse, Hosemann said.
“About a third of the card is your picture,” he said. “We have in big bold letters your last name and the county you’re supposed to be voting in.”
In order to get an ID, he said a voter must bring one of the following to the circuit clerk’s office: a photo identity document with the voter’s name and picture issued by the U.S. Government or any state; a birth certificate or other document with a voter’s full legal name, date and place of birth; a Social Security card; a Medicare or Medicaid card; a Mississippi voter registration card; or a utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check or W-2 form from the previous six months.
Anyone who can show one of the following forms of ID on election day don’t need to get a card and are not eligible for one: A driver’s license; a photo issued by a state department; a U.S. passport; a government employee ID; a firearms license; a student photo ID issued by an accredited state university or community college; a U.S. military ID; or a tribal photo ID.
An expired photo ID can be used provided it is not more than 10 years old, Hosemann said.
Eligible voters who cast absentee ballots by mail and voters with religious objections to being photographed are exempted from the new regulations, Hosemann said. A voter who doesn’t have a form of ID on election day can fill out an affidavit ballot and present a photo ID within five business days.
Mississippi was able to implement the new law in June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain state and local governments no longer required federal clearance to change their election procedures. State voters passed a referendum in 2011 requiring voters to show ID. State legislators passed a bill to put the change into law the next year pending approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. Hosemann had long contended that not requiring ID had led to voter fraud.
Hosemann’s stop in Columbus was one of more than a dozen he started making late last week and will continue to make throughout this week, he said. He also has seven “strike teams” that will install the equipment throughout the state so each of the 82 counties has it functioning by the end of the week and each clerk is trained.
Salazar said Lowndes County will mail voter pictures and information to a third party vendor which will then mail voters their cards, a process that would take nine to 12 business days.
“If we’re within 45 days of an election, we issue a temporary one on a special paper stock they can use in case they don’t receive their card in time and they can use that for one election,” she said.
For more information, visit msvoterid.ms.gov/.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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