State NAACP president Derrick Johnson is 99.999-percent sure that the state voter ID law will not be active in time for this November's election.
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There will be no voter identification requirements at the polls in Mississippi this November, according to state NAACP president Derrick Johnson.
Johnson spoke to citizens at Koinonia Coffee House's Friday Forum this morning. He said he is 99 percent sure that there is no way the state can implement its recent voter-ID law in time for this year's election. One major hurdle for the law is the U.S. Department of Justice has to approve it. For the DOJ to do so, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann must send all the state's plans to the department, which Johnson said he has not done yet.
A letter dated June 20 (see document below), from the DOJ to the state Attorney General's office, shows that as of that date, the DOJ was not satisfied with the information it had received.
"The review by the Justice Department is 60 days. They have requested another 60 days," Johnson said. "Even if it (is approved), based on what has happened in South Carolina and Texas, where they did not pre-clear it, it may end up in (Washington) D.C. District Court. So there will be no voter ID for this November."
If the DOJ approves the Mississippi law, Johnson said the NAACP will adjust to help the voters affected to get the needed identification.
Father Jeremy Tobin, secretary of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, said that Hosemann is not a friend to voters. Hosemann has put out postcards and flyers that read, "When approved, Mississippi's new Voter ID law will require voters to show identification at the polls."
"This is bogus. We do not have the voter ID. It's designed to defuse people. If you see anything like that, call Derrick (Johnson), call MIRA, call somebody and report it," Tobin said after Johnson's presentation.
Johnson said Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization, is leading the push to pass a federal law against deceptive voting practices. Hosemann's flyers, which may lead voters to believe they are subject to a law that does not yet exist, could fall under that proposed law, Johnson said. Currently, though, there is no federal law against such practices.
In Mississippi, 251,000 African Americans are not registered to vote, Johnson said, but the NAACP is working hard to get as many potential voters registered in time for the November election, not just African Americans.
"We want everybody to register to vote. The NAACP was founded by an interracial group of black and white. We've always had black and white members of the organization, and in leadership positions of the organization," Johnson said.
While voter ID is not on the books, Johnson believes those who want to deter voters will find other ways to do so. On election day, Johnson said NAACP will have a group of lawyers on standby to take action when citizens report any acts of voter discrimination or intimidation.
Four years ago, an employer in Greenville attempted to prevent some 400 employees from voting by making them work late and not allowing them to leave to vote. Johnson and NAACP lawyers stepped in and made sure those employees' were able to exercise their right to vote.
"Devices such as that should not be used to influence elections," Johnson said.
The NAACP has a hotline which voters can call to get information on registering to vote and polling locations, or to report election abuses on election day. The number is 1-866-My-Vote-1 (1-866-698-6831).
Correction: An early version of the story did not mention that Johnson said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has not yet turned all the information to the Department of Justice. It also did not include the third paragraph about the letter from the DOJ, or the link to the DOJ letter. We apologize for the omissions.