January 20, 2014 9:03:41 AM
Fifteen counties in Mississippi have issued Voter ID cards since the window opened last week for registered voters who need to get one.
Lowndes County isn't one of those 15, circuit clerk Haley Salazar said Friday, but she expects that to change as the June 3 congressional primaries draw nearer.
"We know of one lady who is coming back," Salazar said. "She came before it was implemented and the equipment was installed. We know she's going to qualify. We had a few people come in and everybody that came in actually had a driver's license."
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann was on hand for equipment installation Dec. 16. It was then that he estimated about 1 percent of registered voters across the state don't have a valid form of ID for voting, which in Lowndes County would be about 380 people.
"We are pleased our Circuit Clerks were prepared to get an early start issuing free Mississippi Voter ID cards," Hosemann said in a release issued Jan. 16. "This shows our outreach to educate Mississippians on the new requirement is reaching the public."
Salazar encouraged everyone who is unsure on whether they qualify to call her office at 662-329-5900 and speak with staff before they make the trip to the courthouse.
"A lot of the people that may need this vote absentee by mail anyway, so they're not going to need it," she said. "I think a lot of it is the elderly population. If you vote absentee in person, you have to present it, but if you vote by mail it doesn't affect it, so I think that may have some bearing on the percentage as well. I think what a lot of people don't understand is you can have a driver's license from another state, as long as it's not more than 10 years old. They just have to be registered."
Hosemann's office rolled out mandatory Voter ID after a lengthy legal battle that ended last June after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that certain state and local governments no longer required federal clearance to change their election procedures. State voters passed a referendum in 2011 requiring voters to show ID. State legislators passed a bill to put the change into law the next year pending approval from the U.S. Department of Justice. Hosemann had long fought for implementing Voter ID as a way of eliminating voter fraud.
Voters who already have a valid form of ID cannot receive a card. Valid forms of ID include: A driver's license; a photo ID card issued by a branch, department or entity of the State of Mississippi; a U.S. passport; a government employee ID card; a firearms license; a student photo ID issued by an accredited Mississippi university, college, or community/junior college; a U.S. military ID; a tribal photo ID; any other photo ID issued by any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government or any state government.
People who come to the polls will be required to show one of these types of identification before they can cast ballots.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.
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