Since last fall's successful referendum requiring Mississippi citizens to show a government-issued photo-identification card, mass confusion has ensued about when and if the law would ever go into effect. For the past year, efforts to explain that no changes to Mississippi election laws can take effect until the U.S. Justice Department says so, which has not happened, have mostly come from the media and civil liberties groups.
One voice that has been curiously silent on explaining the facts to voters, however, has been Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, where the buck should stop.
As a conservative Republican and one of the chief backers of voter ID, Hosemann can take a certain amount of political satisfaction in helping get the issue on the ballot, through the Legislature and onto Gov. Phil Bryant's desk. Hosemann can even boast to his conservative political cronies of his quietly securing $500,000 in his office's budget appropriation to fight the inevitable legal challenges by the Obama White House.
From the perch of a political spectator, one could argue that Hosemann has been victorious (although from a fiscal responsibility point-of-view, he and his pro-ID brethren should be called out for wasting so much taxpayer money on a plan that was sure to meet legal resistance and has scant evidence to back its need).
But with the DOJ now demanding more evidence that the architects of voter ID did not intend to discriminate against black voters, the feds can basically run out the clock. As a result, even Hosemann himself has admitted voter ID won't be effect for the Nov. 6 general election. Hosemann testified to that effect recently at a legislative hearing at the Capitol.
What Hosemann has irresponsibly failed to do is explicitly tell Mississippi voters--and potential poll workers--that voter ID is not required this election. There is no statement that we can find on the SOS' website nor have we seen a press release alerting people that photo ID is unnecessary this time around. Instead, what we've seen are misleading posters offering help in securing ID, which falsely implies one is needed.
We understand that Hosemann holds a partisan position and believes he needs to tow the party line, but the people of Mississippi elected him to run elections, not perpetually run for office. If he or any other public official believes in his heart of hearts that rampant voter fraud needs to be quelled, then produce the evidence, prosecute the offenders and send them to prison. Otherwise, Secretary Hosemann should stop playing politics and tell Mississippians the truth: You do not need photo ID to vote on Nov. 6.
Read the full story on this issue here.