A study finds that more than 75 percent of non-white voters in Mississippi voted against a measure to require photo identification before someone may vote. Initiative 27, a state constitutional amendment, passed in November with approval from 62 percent of nearly 870,000 voters. But there was a wide split between black and white voters, according to an analysis released by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, a Washington, D.C., group.
The committee’s statistical analysis estimated that 82.6 percent of white voters were in favor of voter ID, while 75 percent of non-white voters were against it. While 97 percent of precincts with a majority-white voting-age population statewide approved Initiative 27, it passed in only 22 percent of precincts where eligible white voters are in a minority.
The finding could be significant as Mississippi seeks required federal approval to implement the measure. The U.S. Justice Department recently turned down South Carolina’s voter ID law, ratcheting up scrutiny on similar laws nationwide.
“It gives you some sense of whether there is going to be a differential impact or not,” said Bob Kengle, co-director of the committee’s Voting Rights Project. Kengle noted that the burden of proof is on the state to show that the amendment has no discriminatory intent against black voters and that impact on black voters is the same as on white voters.