Mississippi Senate Pushes For Voter Photo ID Law
The Mississippi State Senate has made an unusual move; they've pulled legislation that they passed on January 15 requiring that voters show a photo ID before being allowed to vote, stripped all amendments out of it, and passed the new legislation.
The previous version had an amendment that allowed voters age 65 an older to vote without showing a photo ID. Governor Haley Barbour had pressed for the removal of that exemption. He got his wish.
The new version, sans exemption for voters 65 and older, passed in the Senate, but the state's House version, while making ID mandatory for voting, still has the exemption for people age 65 and older, and allows non-photo versions of identification, such as utility bills, bank statements, and paychecks.
The fate of the law is now unclear.
Velvet Revolution would like to see the House version become law in Mississippi. Requiring voters to have some form of identification is acceptable if non-photo ID is included, and the House version does that.
However, Governor Haley Barbour (R) may well refuse to sign the bill if it contains any exemption from the photo ID requirement. Said Barbour in his 2009 State of the State address, "As to Voter ID, it is past time we catch up with our sister states and with business, medical, financial and the rest of the government world by requiring a picture ID to vote."
Delbert Hosemann, the Republican secretary of state, is also a strong proponent of photo ID requirements for voters. He would most likely urge Barbour to veto any bill that did not require all voters to show photo ID.
As always, the Republicans claim that photo ID requirements are necessary to prevent voter fraud. Yet, as reported by the Jackson Free Press, "When asked for evidence that the additional regulation is needed, Republican supporters typically refer to cases of fraud involving absentee voting -- which does not require ID now, nor would under a voter ID requirement. 'They've never been able to offer a solid case where an ID requirement would have been useful because preventing fraud is not their goal,' NAACP President Derrick Johnson told the Jackson Free Press last month. 'This is all about disenfranchising voters, not cleaning up voting.'"
Mr. Johnson is correct. Velvet Revolution continues to insist that photo ID requirements for voting are sinister methods of disenfranchising the elderly, minority, and low-income voters, people who very often vote for Democratic candidates. We believe it's no surprise that those who are in favor of photo ID requirements are almost invariably Republicans.