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Voter Education: "Voter Identification"

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Initiative #27 (1) (a) Except as provided in subsection (2), A qualified elector who votes in a primary or general election, either in person at the polls or in person in the office of the circuit clerk, shall present a government issued photo identification before being allowed to vote. (b) A qualified elector who does not have a government issued photo identification and who cannot afford such identification may obtain a state issued photo identification free of charge from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The elector must show appropriate identifying documents required by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety as provided by law. (2) (a) An elector living and voting in a state-licensed care facility shall not be required to show a government issued photo identification before being allowed to vote. (b) An elector who has a religious objection to being photographed will be allowed to cast an affidavit ballot, and the elector, within five days after the election, shall execute an affidavit in the appropriate circuit clerk’s office affirming that the exemption applies. (c) An elector who has a government issued photo identification, but is unable to present that identification when voting, shall file an affidavit ballot, and the elector, within five days after the election, shall present the government issued photo identification to the appropriate circuit clerk. (3) This provision shall not be construed to require photo identification to register to vote. This provision only requires government issued photo identification for casting a ballot. (4) The Legislature shall enact legislation to implement the provisions of this section of the constitution.


BALLOT TITLE: Should the Mississippi Constitution be amended to require a person to submit government issued photo identification in order to vote? BALLOT SUMMARY: Initiative #27 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to require voters to submit a government issued photo identification before being allowed to vote; provides that any voter lacking government issued photo identification may obtain photo identification without charge from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety; and exempts certain residents of state-licensed care facilities and religious objectors from being required to show photo identification in order to vote.
Fiscal Analysis Prepared by the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office Based on Fiscal Year 2010 information, the Department of Public Safety issued 107,094 photo IDs to U.S. citizens of voting age. The individuals were assessed $14 per ID to offset a portion of the $17.92 cost per ID. The cost is estimated to remain the same, but the assessment will no longer be allowable under the provision of Initiatve 27. Therefore, the Department of Public Safety is estimated to see a loss of revenue of approximately $1,499,000.
The Argument FOR the Initiative by Joey Fillingane, Initiative Sponsor Why should you vote “Yes” for Voter Identification? Because the right to vote is too important to allow dishonest people to steal elections by voting in the name of other people; often times in the name of dead people or folks who are out of state on Election Day. The integrity of our entire election system is at stake. For too many years, as nearly every other state in the nation has strengthen the protections of their election procedures, Mississippi once again trails behind as one of only a handful of states that does not require any form of photo identification before casting a ballot on election day. In a culture when you are required to show photo ID to fly out of an airport, cash a check or even rent a movie from a video store, surely it make sense to ask citizens to show a form of government-issued photo ID before they vote. Voter ID will not cure all problems with the elections in Mississippi but it will go a very long way to ensuring that dead people do not vote – as has happened in Mississippi within the past few election cycles – and it will ensure that people only get one vote per election. This makes ultimate sense to people of all political backgrounds. The proponents of this initiative do not buy into the argument forwarded by the opponents, which is that this would drive down turnout among Mississippi voters. What it would accomplish, however, is to guarantee that every vote cast is done so legally. Please join the thousands of Mississippians in voting “Yes” for Voter ID and in doing so, helping us clean up Mississippi’s election system.
The Argument AGAINST the Initiative by Sue Harmon, MoveOn.org The Voter ID initiative should be decided on the basis of “dollars and sense.” Implementing Voter ID amounts to a 21st Century poll tax. Those who do not have the documents required to obtain an ID will have to spend money to get documents such as birth certificates. These documents are not free, so some persons will be forced to “pay to vote.” The 14th and 24th amendments prohibit any costs or fees associated with voting. In the 1966 case Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited the use of poll taxes as a prerequisite to voting in local and state elections. Voter ID laws in other states provide for provisional ballots that require voters without ID on election day to show proof of ID within two days after the election to have their ballots counted. However, the use of such provisional ballots violates the Federal Voting Standards and Procedures Act of 2003; that act requires states to streamline registration, voting, and other election procedures. Finally, Mississippi needs to funnel more money into job training and education; Voter ID should not be at the top of its funding priorities. Confirmed cases of individuals impersonating another voter at the polls in this country are so low that there are no successful studies of the extent of such acts of fraud. Should Mississippi spend money on something that is not an issue? It will be quite expensive for both the state and the citizens affected to implement Voter ID. The Legislative Budget Office estimates that the state’s share alone will be $1,499,000 in taxpayer dollars, and additional IDs will need to be issued every year from now on. There is not enough sense in the idea of Voter ID to justify the investment of all those tax dollars.]]]]> ]]>

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