Mississippi’s top elections official said Tuesday that he has given the federal government proposed rules for how the state intends to carry out a voter identification law that is in limbo. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s submission to the U.S. Justice Department is part of the state’s process of seeking federal approval of the law that would require every voter to show a driver’s license or other photo ID at the polls. The law can’t take effect without clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court. It’s unclear when, or how, the department will respond. Hosemann started seeking approval several months ago.
“Our agency is proposing procedures to ensure every eligible voter who does not currently have acceptable photo ID will be able to obtain an ID easily and free of charge,” Republican Hosemann said in a news release Tuesday.
Any voter who lacks ID could get one free from a circuit clerk, he said. Each of the 82 counties has at least one circuit clerk’s office. The secretary of state’s office also obtained an agreement allowing circuit clerks to verify birth records with the state Department of Health, at no cost to a voter who needs ID. Critics have said this wouldn’t help voters who were born at home or in other states.