Despite opposition from Democratic-leaning groups who say laws requiring voter ID could keep minorities, young people and college students away from polls, Mississippi’s voter ID law will first be tested in a hot Republican primary for one of the state’s U.S. Senate seats. Mississippi Secretary of State of Delbert Hosemann’s office is launching a publicity blitz to bring attention to the state’s voter-identification law that’s scheduled to be used for the first time for the June 2014 primaries. The most highly anticipated in the state, that election will pit incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who announced plans to seek reelection last week, against state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a proxy between the GOP’s mainstream and more radical Tea Party factions. Hosemann and several other Republicans had been eyeing the seat had Cochran opted for retirement. Of the voter ID awareness campaign, Hosemann told reporters Monday that his office is airing two 30-second TV commercials—one that started Monday and one that starts in January.
Hosemann said he and his staff also are speaking to political parties, civic clubs, religious organizations, city and county elected officials, and other groups that are in touch with local communities. He said he’s asking them to help share information about the new law and to help find people who lack an acceptable form of photo ID.
“We are going to take great pains to reach everyone,” Hosemann said Monday during a news conference at the Capitol.
The new law says people must show one of 10 specific types of photo ID to vote. The first nine are a driver’s license; an ID issued by any branch of Mississippi state government; a U.S. passport; a government employee ID card; a gun license; a student ID from an accredited public or private college; a U.S. military ID; a tribal photo ID; or any other photo ID issued by any branch of the federal government.
Anyone who lacks one of those types of identification can get a free state-issued voter identification card that includes a photo, name and address, Hosemann said. The photo ID cards will be made at circuit clerks’ offices in January, he said. Hosemann said the state will provide free transportation to anyone who needs a ride to a circuit clerk’s office. He also said that once a person is there to get ID, the clerk will provide a free verification of birth-certificate information, if that’s needed.