Ballot Initiatives Draw Reaction | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Ballot Initiatives Draw Reaction


State Rep. Kelvin Buck said the next step is to educate constituents on the new requirements of the voter ID.

While the proposed Personhood amendment garnered most of the attention locally as well as from national media, voters approved two other controversial statewide ballot measures on Tuesday.

One initiative asked whether the government should be prohibited from taking property by eminent domain and then transferring it to other persons for 10 years. Voters approved the measure by a margin of 73 percent to 27 percent.

The second, which passed would require people wishing to vote to present a government-issued identification card. Voters approved the law by a margin of 68 percent to 32 percent. Civil rights groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People opposed the voter ID initiative, arguing the law would make it more difficult for blacks and other groups cast their ballots.

Implementing the voter ID law would also be costly to the state's economy -- up to $100,000, depending on how many people requested one. State Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, sponsor of the initiative, told the Jackson Free Press in August that the $100,000 figure would be reached only if every eligible voter in the state needs a new ID.

But the cost of the cards themselves aren't the only potential expense for taxpayers. Here's how it works: Mississippi will hand out free IDs. But not just for one year. The state must do it every year for new voters and every time someone needs a new ID. While many people have driver's licenses, 107,094 people bought photo IDs from the Department of Public Safety in 2010, paying more than $1,499,000. 

The passage of voter ID means $1,499,000 that the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office estimates DPS will lose in revenue, not counting a possible uptick in requests for IDs once they are required for voting. Regardless, $1.5 million per year is dramatically more than Fillingane's $100,000 estimate.

State Rep. Kelvin Buck, D-Holly Springs, said that he came to grips with the fact that voter ID would likely pass before the election. The next step is to educate constituents on the new requirements, he said.

"It would be in our best interest to really try to make this work for as many people as we can," Buck said.

He added that organizations that are concerned about the implications of the law should workshop and conduct other sorts of outreach to prepare would-be voters for the next election.

Lonzo Archie, who successfully fought an attempt to take his property through eminent domain for a Nissan plant in Canton, lauded the passage of the ban on governments commandeering private property for commercial uses.

"That's the best thing Mississippi could have done," said Archie, who still owns property near the Nissan facility. "The people have spoken."

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