'Quagmire' of Voter ID | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

'Quagmire' of Voter ID

After Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's scathing retort yesterday to "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification," the Brennan Center for Justice is standing by its conclusions.

After Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's scathing retort yesterday to "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification," the Brennan Center for Justice is standing by its conclusions. Photo by Ward Schaefer

After Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's scathing retort yesterday to "The Challenge of Obtaining Voter Identification," the Brennan Center for Justice is standing by its conclusions.

In a press release late yesterday afternoon, Hosemann's office said the report, issued last week, is "purposely inaccurate and misleading." Furthermore, he said, the report "exaggerates the population number, then multiplies it by the 'estimated' number of people without transportation, to provide a totally fraudulent number of 48,329 voting citizens without a vehicle more than ten (10) miles from a state ID issuing office. This statement is false and the Brennan Center had knowledge to the contrary when the 'Report' was issued."

The Jackson Free Press called Pamela Weaver, Hosemann's director of communications, yesterday afternoon and this morning in an effort to obtain unexaggerated numbers from the secretary of state's office. Those calls have not been returned.

The numbers are difficult to assess, said Bear Atwood, legal director of the Mississippi ACLU in Jackson. But whether it's 48,000 or 3,000 or three, she asked, how many is "too many" when it comes to denying someone's constitutional right to vote?

The official response from the Brennan Center did not specifically address Hosemann's accusations; however, the report devotes nearly half its pages to outlining its methodology and citing sources for the data it used to compile the report. The center obtained population data from the U.S. Census. Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice reiterated this morning that the center stands by the numbers in its report.

Hosemann's statement also took issue with the report's statement that half the state's rural offices issuing IDs are open part time. "[T]he 'Report' acknowledges 'Mississippi Law requires county offices to provide ID.' There are ninety-two (92) of these offices located in all eighty-two (82) counties which are open five (5) days a week from 8:00 a.m - 5:00 pm," Hosemann's release states.

The Brennan Center report used information from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety website list of offices that issue driver's licenses. (http://www.dps.state.ms.us/driver-services/new-drivers-license/district-one-locations/). A scan of those office hours reveal numerous part-time locations, such as Indianola's Justice Court Building at 202 Main St., which is open "1st & 3rd Thursday, 8:30-4:30 (closed for lunch 12:00-1:00)," according to the website. Kosciusko's office is only open Tuesdays.

The secretary of state also took issue with the Brennan Center's characterization of the "Mississippi 'Catch-22,'" (reported by the Jackson Free Press July 5) whereby a citizen must produce a birth certificate to obtain a Voter ID card, but must have government-issued photo ID to obtain a birth certificate. In response Hosemann stated that "each Circuit Clerk will be able to access the National Association for Public Health Statistics to verify available birth certificate data across the country at no cost to the applicant by simply obtaining basic information from the applicant."

The press release was the first Atwood had ever heard of this procedure, she said, adding that part of the problem is that the entire process has yet to be codified or funded. "We don't know what the logistics are going to be," she said, and the entire process is filled with unknowns. "There's no way to test the logistics."

She also touched on issues specifically affecting rural populations, the elderly and women, issues raised in the Brennan Center report. Birth certificates may not exist at all, Atwood said, and may also be in a different name. "There may not be a birth certificate in some database somewhere. It may not exist," she said. "We don't know how many people are not going to be able to connect the dots from their birth certificate to their current name."

Yesterday's response from the Brennan Center echoed Atwood's concerns. "We sincerely hope that the state of Mississippi lives up to the Secretary's promise that these county offices will provide free photo IDs to all citizens who need them from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., five days a week," the center's response said.

"We are glad to hear that Mississippi appears to have found a solution to this problem," the response continued.

"Whatever one's position on new voter ID laws, we can all agree that in states where such laws exist, every effort should be made to ensure that eligible voters can get such IDs," the response stated, a position that Norden re-emphasized this morning.

Atwood said it was "unacceptable" to keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote, calling the situation a quagmire. She stressed once again that the state Legislature has not funded the Voter ID mandate.

"I would want to ask the secretary, 'What's the acceptable number of people to disenfranchise?'" Atwood said. "I think it's zero."

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scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

"We don't know how many people are not going to be able to connect the dots from their birth certificate to their current name." How many people forget what name they were given at birth?

In a world of fairness and equality why is it that the liberals think that minorities are less capable of acquiring a voter ID than whites. Or is it just democrats are less capable of getting a voter ID than republicans. Or is this more about letting non-citizens vote. Are you sure that people that would come here illegally wouldn't vote illegally?


scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

Why does the liberal left think that conservative republicans are so much more capable of aquiring a voter ID than liberal democrats???


goldeneagle97 9 years, 1 month ago

There isn't anything liberal or conservative about the right to vote. The fact of the matter is that states, including Mississippi, are instituting poll taxes to disenfranchise voters. It may not be a poll tax in the pure sense of the term, but that's what it is. Even if the IDs are free, people still have to have a birth certificate to get one. Obtaining a birth certificate isn't free. That, to me, is a poll tax. Poll taxes are unconstitutional!


scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

If people don't have a birth certificate then they can show their naturalization papers. Still the major protests over voter ID laws come from groups representing minorities. Doing this discredits minorities. I do believe minorities are just as capable as whites at coming up with identification when necessary.


goldeneagle97 9 years, 1 month ago

What US-born citizen would have a naturalization paper? I've never heard of such a thing.


RonniMott 9 years, 1 month ago

Scrappy, no one's talking about minorities being "incapable."

What the Brennan Center report points out, though, is that many people--not just minorities--face serious barriers trying to gather the identification required by Voter ID laws, including the expense of getting their birth certificates and marriage licenses. Many rural seniors, for example, were born at home and don't even have a birth certificate--never had one. Other barriers include lack of transportation to an office where they can get those documents--or a Voter ID card if they have all their required documents. Many of those office have extremely limited hours. It also may mean taking time off work, which may not be granted without risking a job. In addition, for people who have changed his or her name (this mainly affects women) they will have to get a certified copy of their marriage certificate or other documents to prove the change, which means more cost. And if a person was born out of the state or country, it's even more complex, time consuming and costly.

The scant evidence of voter fraud (the most often-used justification for the laws), most of which occurs with absentee ballots, doesn't justify either the cost to citizens or the cost to taxpayers to facilitate these laws. That cost has yet to be fully understood. All in all, it's a "solution" to a "problem" that has yet to be demonstrated to exist.

Voting in America is a right, not a privilege. Voter ID laws will make it more difficult and complex for many American citizens to exercise that right for no demonstrable reason. The Americans who will most likely be disenfranchised by these laws are the poor, the elderly and the disabled, many of whom are also minorities. It has nothing to do with "capabilities."


brjohn9 9 years, 1 month ago

Scrappy is just playing games, implying that "liberals" are somehow racist for opposing voter ID laws. He is repeatedly demonstrating that voter-ID advocates have nothing but aw-shucks arguments and opportunistic gambits.

By the way, Pennsylvania Republicans have admitted that they have http://dailyitem.com/0100_news/x12367...">absolutely no evidence that voter fraud has occurred there, which will not help their case in court.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick S. Cawley stipulated Tuesday that “there have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania, and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.”


scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

While the left and the NAACP scream about poll taxes and most have their head in the sand about voter fraud, voter fraud is going on right under your noses. In April a Tunica County, Miss., jury convicted NAACP official Lessadolla Sowers of voter fraud and sentenced her to five years in prison. The tip of the iceberg. The ACORNS and NAACP's of the US know that voter ID would cut back on their frauds. You won't find this reported in main-stream-media.


tstauffer 9 years, 1 month ago

Just did a terse survey of the right-wing blogosphere that continues to push that story (and the scare-tactics meme that the mainstream press is "ignoring" it), and here's what's remarkable --try as they might to write around it, even some of them can't get away from the fact that Sowers crime was on fake absentee ballots. Something that voter ID does NOTHING to address.

Try again, Scrap?


donnaladd 9 years, 1 month ago

We've been reporting this for months now: The state's new voter ID law does not address the actually deal with the actual voter fraud that does exist in the state. Nice use of state resources, Mr. Hosemann. Doesn't sound very conservative.


brjohn9 9 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Scrappy's argument would be stronger if his example was relevant.


goldeneagle97 9 years, 1 month ago

We're gonna scream poll taxes because they are UNCONSTITUTIONAL!!! The right loves to scream about how Obama doesn't follow the Constitution. Look at the pot calling the kettle black.


tstauffer 9 years, 1 month ago

It gets back to the same question I've asked repeatedly about these conservatives who are suddenly "all-in" on the idea that people need to obtain and display ID before they can do what I'll call "commit constitutional acts."

Why is it consistent to be for voter ID, but against a government ID for gun owners?

If ID'ing all law-abiding citizens before a crime is committed is so important to you, then you should also be for requiring every gun owner to have a gun-owner's ID.

Here's my http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Modest...">Modest Proposal: I call it the 2A-ID, or the 2nd Amendment ID.

After all, more and deadlier crimes are committed with guns than with votes. Shouldn't you be for preventative ID in those situations, too?

Your 2A-ID should be required before a gun purchase can be made and presented at the time of purchase. (To avoid additional cost, you can get your gun owner's rating when you're registering for your voter ID or driver's license. I don't want this to be onerous for the gun owner.)

Then, to deter any potential "future crime," that specific gun can be registered directly to that licensed owner in the shop, so that it can be tracked in case it's resold and used in the commission of any sort of crime... like happened with Fast and Furious.

Indeed, Fast and Furious wouldn't even have been an issue if 2A-ID was in force at the time. Since conservatives are really upset about Fast and Furious, I think they'd be all for 2A-ID.

Gun shows can have onsite scanners for registrations; eBay, Craigslist, etc., will need to build in some third-party database connectors. These "absentee purchases" will be tougher to trace, but they're were the real fraud could happen.

Bonus... the license can be easily be revoked if you commit a felony. And, no more background checks at the store; they can just scan your valid license to make the purchase and tie the gun to the purchaser.

Might as well use the ID for ammo purchases, as well, right? That way crazy-ass stockpilers could be tracked before they commit crimes, too.

Good idea, right? And fully in step with conservative values in terms of Voter ID, right?

What am I missing?


scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

Voting and gun ownership both carry immense responsibility and as some here have pointed out a voter ID will not stop all intended voter fraud by people like Ms Sowers of the NAACP.

Since voting and gun ownership are both guaranteed by the constitution then vet voters with the same thoroughness as gun buyers.

A deny message from the NICS indicates the subject of the background check has been matched with a similar name and/or similar descriptive information of a record containing a state law prohibition or the following federally prohibitive criteria:

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(1)

Has been convicted in any court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term

exceeding one year

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(2)

Is a fugitive from justice

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(3)

Is an unlawful user of or addicted to any

controlled substance

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(4)

Has been adjudicated as a mental defective

or committed to a mental institution

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(5)

Is an alien illegally or unlawfully in the United States or who has been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(6)

Has been discharged from the Armed Forces

under dishonorable conditions

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(7)

Having been a citizen of the United States,

has renounced U.S. citizenship

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(8)

Is subject to a court order that restrains the

person from harassing, stalking, or

threatening an intimate partner or child of

such intimate partner

18 U.S.C. §922 (g)(9)

Has been convicted in any court of a

misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

18 U.S.C. §922 (n)

Is under indictment for a crime punishable by

imprisonment for a term exceeding one year

Please reference the Federal Register, Volume

62, Number 124, Rules and Regulations, for

more complete definitions of the prohibiting



tstauffer 9 years, 1 month ago

Scrappy... and the appropriate place for this to happen is when the voter is registered, not when they're actually voting. If you're serious about addressing nearly all voter fraud issues, you'd focus on voter registration and absentee voter issues. And I'm all for that. I just think once you've established your ID and residence, you should be able to vote without first getting approval from a poll worker like you're an 18-year-old buying a pack of smokes.


scrappy1 9 years, 1 month ago

On this I agree as long as the individual voter shows up and identifies him or herself. The voter would still be verifing they are an eligible voter.


nbarton 9 years ago

First gun owners are already in a data base when they purchase a gun through a dealer; therefore have a secondary identification is unnecessary and since this is apples and oranges argument you can't buy a gun off Ebay. by the way 99.9% of gun owners never commit any kind of crime.

Funny how the Democrats have been pushing for a National Identification card for years since 9/11 and yet are so vehemently opposed to voter id cards I wonder if it has to do with the voter demographic to whom they cater.


tstauffer 9 years ago

Thanks nbarton, you just made my point for me. Voters are already in a database, too -- they register to vote. You then go in and physically sign your name in the precinct where you vote. You're allowed to do this once. That's why there's almost no documented voter fraud.

Again, if conservatives were serious about voter fraud, they'd focus on where the fraud happens, at the registration level. Instead, the emphasis remains on tactics that suppress voting, meaning the constitutional rights of others. It's utterly shameful.

And, by the way, REAL ID, which actually passed, was a Republican initiative. In fact, the GOP attached it to a "must pass" Iraq War and Tsunami relief bill in 2005, at the height of one-party rule by the GOP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REAL_ID_Act">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REAL_ID_Act

You might want to get your parties straight -- you may be supporting the wrong one!

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