VICKSBURG (AP) – About 100 Mississippi Voter ID cards – equal to about three-one thousandths of the state’s population – have been distributed statewide since the start of a campaign to ensure voters are ready for mandatory photo IDs at the polls this year.
The Vicksburg Post reports circuit clerks’ offices are assisting people who say they don’t have photo identification that poll workers will ask to see beginning June 3, when party primaries are held for federal elections.
The general election for federal, judicial and local school board races is Nov. 4. Party primaries are June 3.
The secretary of state’s office said Monday that a comparison of the number of registered voters in the state and the Mississippi voting age population shows approximately 360,397 non-registered Mississippians who are eligible to vote. The secretary of state it believes that is the number of Mississippians who are not registered to vote, not the number of Mississippi residents who may need a voter ID.
In November 2012, the secretary of state’s Office hired Edison research to survey almost 6,000 Mississippi voters as they exited 30 polling locations selected randomly across the state. Survey results show only 0.8% of voting Mississippians having no acceptable form of photo identification.
The June 3rd election is a party primary conducted by the parties. The photo ID requirement is not discretionary. Therefore, by state law, poll workers are required to request all Mississippi voters casting a ballot at the polls to present acceptable photo ID.
Shirley Hall, a former Ridgeland mayor and a voter ID coordinator for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, told the Vicksburg Lions Club last week that the small number of cards issued is attributed to the myriad avenues already in place to comply with the law. The state’s voters OK’d an initiative in 2011 to amend state law to make showing photo ID compulsory at the polls.
Hall said the get-out-the-word campaign on voter ID before civic clubs and churches will take her down “every country road in Mississippi.”
The Mississippi Voter Identification Card is available free at circuit clerks’ offices statewide.
Those without ID may cast an affidavit ballot which will be counted if the voter returns to the appropriate clerk’s office within five business days after the election and shows government-issued ID. Voters with a religious objection to being photographed may also vote affidavit, after which the voter returns to the clerk’s office and signs another affidavit that the religious exemption applies to them.
Showing a photo ID is also mandatory starting this year for absentee voting in clerks’ offices statewide. Mississippi’s law, unlike several other states, accepts expired photo IDs at the polls as long as it’s not more than 10 years old.
Hosemann’s office said 10 types of photo IDs, not previously mandated at the polls, also are eligible. Those include a driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a U.S. passport, a government employee ID card, a firearms license, a student ID issued by an accredited state university or community college, a U.S. military ID, a tribal photo ID, a federally-issued ID and the Mississippi Voter Identification Card.