WASHINGTON, D.C.--Rejection-it's what Mississippi's lone Democrat Congressman wants from the U.S. Dept. of Justice for the state's 2011 voter-passed Voter ID legislation. Several sources are reporting today that Rep. Bennie Thompson sent a letter Friday to Eric Holder, the U.S. Attorney General, asking for him to block the law that was passed by Mississippi voters.
The move comes just two days after Miss. Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann expressed his frustration to News Mississippi on the matter. He said he believes the DOJ is trying to stall until after the Nov. 6 presidential election:
The Department of Justice has to respond within 60 days. The sixtieth day we get a five to six page letter that says they need more information and they need to know everything that was considered by the state of Mississippi in passing the voter ID to see if it was discriminatory in intent. How am I going to respond to that? Am I going to have to get every newspaper for the past two decades where people discuss this?
Reporter Chip Ward's story said Hosemann was adament that the Voter ID law had been sufficiently vetted, with nine public hearings and plenty of discussion.
As for Thompson, News Mississippi has not heard from his office what his exact reasons are that he wants to block having to present a photo ID to vote. In general, opposition to the law across the country has said having to present an ID would hurt the chances to vote for the poor, elderly and minorities. The Texas version was struck down recently by a federal court, likely because fees were in place to purchase a photo ID and some people would have to travel long distances to do so.
Mississippi is subject to the discretion of the feds under the Voting Rights Act because of past wrongs that were set up to keep minorities from voting, like the poll tax.
Hosemann cites over 60 voter fraud convictions in explaining why he believes voter ID is necessary. He says there is no intention to disenfranchise anyone and that photo ID need not cost anyone in the state and can be easily obtained at any county courthouse.
Still, he expects rejection from the Dept. of Justice and money has already been set aside to pay for a court battle.