by Chris Davis
JACKSON, Miss.--The Texas voter ID bill was struck down and now court action with South Carolina's new law is pending. Mississippi Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann says he's watching to see if provisions put into the Magnolia State's voter-approved legislation will give us a leg up in the court system.
Hosemann said last week he does not believe the U.S. Dept. of Justice will give the Mississippi law the OK. Under the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ must approve any change in the way the state conducts business at the polls. But, Hosemann's office is gearing up for the chance to bring the law to a courtroom as an alternative way to push it through the approval process.
He said the legislature already approved money for a court battle the last time around.
"We haven't spent any of the money and we've asked them to carry it over 'til next year," he said. "Hopefully it'll be a minor expense. We'd love for it to be a minor expense."
Hosemann said he's very interested in seeing the South Carolina ruling as a possible marker to gauge how Mississippi's law will fair.
"South Carolina had a much better case than Texas. Texas had some things that were bothersome to the federal court system like it's 250 miles sometimes for a minority to get a driver's ID. They had a lot of charges and the court was concerned about those."
The charges had to do with obtaining an ID, which would not cost Mississippians who did not already have one under the new law.
"We would be very careful about no expense for an ID for the individual that didn't already have one," he said.
That goes as far as arranging free birth certificates at all county courthouses. Hosemann said his office worked closely with the Bureau of Vital Statistics to make that happen.
And, Hosemann says, arrangements are being made for people who don't have an ID yet to get to where they need to go to get one.
"We're working on a transportation plan, where even if, for whatever reason you couldn't get in to have your picture taken, we would have transportation provided for you to do that. There are some vehicles available if that's needed," he said.
Opponents of Voter ID say the plan may end up impeding the right to vote for some minorities. Hosemann believes most, if not all of those issues have been addressed-affordability, distance, paperwork and transportation.
"People have basically decided whether you have five convictions, and I think we've had something like 70 of one sort or another in Mississippi in the last several years, people have decided that this protects the integrity of the vote. So we don't need to be talking anymore about whether we should have a voter ID. Where we ought to focus is the implementation of Voter ID."
Hosemann reminded us that voters chose the Constitutional Voter ID and that means it's what Mississippi, as a whole, wants.
The last word, though, belongs to other powers that be and Hosemann said his office will continue preparing to take the case to court.