Mississippi Voter Identification Amendment, Initiative 27 (2011)

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Initiative 27
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Mississippi Constitution
Referred by:citizens
Topic:Elections
Status:On the ballot
A Mississippi Voter Identification Petition will appear on the November 8, 2011 general election ballot in the state of Mississippi as an indirect initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, if enacted by voters, would require Voter ID at the polls in the state. It was sponsored by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and State Senator Joey Fillingane after the Mississippi State Senate failed to take action on the proposal.[1]

The original filing of Initiative 27 can be found here.

Text of measure

Title

The ballot title that voters will see reads as follows:[2][3]

"Should the Mississippi Constitution be amended to require a person to submit government issued photo identification in order to vote?"

Summary

The ballot summary of the measure reads as follows:[2]

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 note

The following is a fiscal note that will be included on the ballot when voters head to the polls, according to reports. According to the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office's fiscal analysis:[4][5]

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 Initiative 27. Therefore, the Department of Public Safety is estimated to see a loss of revenue of approximately $1,499,000.

Support

Supporters

Arguments

  • Supporters argue that voter identification is necessary to stop election fraud in Mississippi.[6]
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  • Measure sponsor Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said that voter ID may not be the perfect solution to ending voter fraud but it is a step in the right direction: "It would not be correct to say that voter ID is the answer to each and every one of our voting problems. We have absentee ballot–fraud issues. We have affidavit ballot–fraud issues."[7]
  • State Senator Joey Fillingane is a supporter of the measure, stating, "There's still voter fraud going on in 2011 now and that ought not to be. I think we're one of only seven states that doesn't have some kind of photo i.d. requirement so we're way behind the eight ball on this."[8]
  • Sid Salter, a syndicated columnist, stated about the measure in a column published by the Clarion Ledger: "Voter ID requirements are long overdue in Mississippi and have reached the ballot over the most specious and manufactured objections. But as the state's chief election officer confirmed this week, voter ID gets the most headlines while absentee ballot abuse actually has the potential to do the most harm in Mississippi elections."[9]
  • According to Mississippi resident, Conrad Anderson, Jr., in a letter to The Natchez Democrat: "And for those who were unaware, this issue was brought up at the Natchez Board of Aldermen meeting and a vote was taken in an attempt to have the city officially oppose the voter ID ballot proposal. In light of recent events, it would appear there are much more important issues for certain members of the board of aldermen to be concerned about than trying to intimidate voters on voter ID issues. I would encourage all registered voters to go to the polls on Nov. 8 and vote in favor of voter ID."[10]

Donors

The following donations were made to the campaign for the measure, as of May 2011, according to the latest monthly initiative reports on the Mississippi Secretary of State's website.[11]

Donor Amount
Mississippi Republican Party $16,500
Voter ID (PAC) $375
Total $16,875

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Rep. Ed Blackmon said of the measure,"I think it's counter-productive" and compares it to a 2001 vote to keep the state flag which depicts the Confederate Battle Flag.[12]
  • Sen. David Jordan agreed with Blackmon, stating, "I still think it is a barrier that is going to hurt poor people who struggled to get the right to vote."[7]
  • Johnny DuPree stated he would vote against the measure: "One writer said that it is a solution looking for a problem. And I believe that's exactly what it is."[13]
  • According to Clarion Ledger Editorial Director David Hampton, the initiative and referendum process brings up causes for concern. In a column, Ledger stated, "The idea of initiative and referendum has always worried me. It creates many more problems than it solves. It can result in some downright stupid and dangerous public policy." Later, Ledger commented on the three Mississippi initiatives that were certified for the ballot in 2011: Mississippians will be asked to vote on three initiatives this year, at least at this point. Two are being challenged in court and may or may not make the ballot in November. We'll see...In my opinion, not only are these items not needed, they actually can do some harm, especially the eminent domain and personhood amendments."[14]
  • Opponents contend that the requirement may decrease voter turnout, for example, those without drivers licenses or minorities.[6]
  • According to Sam Hall, campaign manager for Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, the measure is more about the goal to suppress voting, particularly among young people, racial minorities and those with low income: "We can certainly say that this is not just about voter ID."[15]
  • Nsombi Lambright, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, argued against the initiative: "Voter ID is one of those unnecessary barriers to the voting booth. We believe it's going to represent a strong deterrent for communities of color, for the elderly and for poor folks to go to the ballot box."[16]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Mississippi ballot measures, 2011

Support

  • The Press-Register supports the proposed voter ID initiative: "The justice also noted what should be obvious: The risk of voter fraud is real and 'could affect the outcome of a close election.' Alabama and Mississippi need to adopt voter ID laws that lessen the risk of fraud and protect the rights of qualified voters."[17]

Path to the ballot

See also: Mississippi signature requirements

Initiative filing

See also: Beginning the initiative process in Mississippi

When introducing a citizen-initiated ballot measure in the state, the first step is to file a typewritten copy of the proposed initiative with the Mississippi Secretary of State. The sponsor has the authority to accept or reject any of the recommendations from the Revisor of the Statutes, who receives the initiative from the secretary. The Attorney General will then draft the ballot title (not exceeding 20 words) and the ballot summary (not exceeding 75 words). The Mississippi Attorney General will file both the title and summary with the Secretary of State, who will then notify the sponsor by certified mail of the exact language in the ballot title and summary. Once the ballot title and ballot summary have been finalized, the sponsor may begin collecting signatures.

Circulation

See also: Signature requirements in Mississippi

At least 90,000 signatures, spread equally from Mississippi's congressional districts were needed in order for the petition drive to be certified. The deadline for the 2010 ballot was October 1, 2009, however, supporters missed the deadline. Instead, supporters aimed for the 2011 ballot. The signature petition deadline was February 14, 2010. According to state rules, at least 17,857 signatures were required from each of the five congressional districts.[18][1]

Signature filing and verification

See also: Signature filing deadlines in Mississippi

On February 11, 2010 approximately 130,000 signatures were submitted to the Mississippi Secretary of State. On March 8th the secretary of state affirmed that the the measure had sufficient signatures, 131,678 signatures, to proceed to the 2011 ballot. Supporters collected 7,336 signatures in Jackson County, the second highest total, and more than 8,300 signatures in DeSoto County. [19][20][21][12]

Legislative review

See also: Mississippi Legislature's response to certified initiatives

The measure is an indirect initiated constitutional amendment, which means that it was proposed by citizens through initiative and does not go immediately to the ballot after a successful petition drive to collect sufficient valid signatures. Rather, once the signatures are collected, the amendment that the citizens are proposing must first be submitted to the state legislature for consideration. Only after the state legislature has considered and possibly also taken a limited range of options that may affect the amendment does it go on the statewide ballot for consideration by the voters.

Timeline

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The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:

Event Date Developments
Signatures collected July 2009 Voter ID activists announced that they had collected approximately 25,000 signatures.[20]
Signature verification Sept. 11, 2009 According to Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Brad White, 35,000 signatures had already been verified.[22]
Petition submission Feb. 11, 2010 Supporters submitted approximately 130,000 more signatures to the Mississippi Secretary of State.[23]
Certification March 8, 2010 The Secretary of State affirmed that the measure had sufficient signatures to proceed to the 2011 ballot.[12]
Legislative review Jan. 4, 2011 Initiative presented to Legislature for review.

Similar measures and laws

The measure comes shortly after similar measures were either on or proposed for other statewide ballots:

  • 2008: The Missouri Voter ID amendment was proposed for the general election. The measure would have required all voters in Missouri to have valid photo identification in order to be permitted to vote. The measure failed to be approved by both houses and therefore did not appear on the ballot.
  • 2010: The Oklahoma Voter ID measure appeared in the general election, where it was approved. The ballot measure proposed that voters should have to produce photo identification in order to vote.
  • 27 states currently have a law in place that requires some form of identification before voting.[24]

See also

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Suggest a link

Similar measures

Approveda Oklahoma Voter Identification Measure (2010)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Missouri Voter ID Amendment (2008)

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External links

Additional reading

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 WTOK, "Voter Identification Petition Drive", May 25, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mississippi Secretary of State, "Initiative Measure No. 27", Retrieved February 7, 2011
  3. Mississippi Secretary of State, "Sample Official Election Ballot", Retrieved September 19, 2011
  4. Mississippi Secretary of State, "Initiative 27 Brochure", Retrieved August 18, 2011
  5. Commercial Appeal, "Photo ID fiscal impact to be included on ballot", October 20, 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 WLBT,"Voter ID measure could be placed on 2011 ballot," March 8, 2010
  7. 7.0 7.1 Associated Press,"Voter ID gets a place on ballot," March 8, 2010
  8. WLBT.com, "Voter ID and eminent domain on November ballot", January 4, 2011
  9. Clarion Ledger, "Absentee ballot abuse more of a threat than voter ID", August 23, 2011
  10. The Natchez Democrat, "Voter identification does no harm", September 4, 2011
  11. Mississippi Secretary of State, "Search Box for Campaign Contributions," Retrieved May 11, 2011
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Clarion Ledger, "Voter ID lands on ballot," March 9, 2010
  13. Clarion Ledger, "Miss. gubernatorial candidates differ on voter ID need", September 26, 2011
  14. Clarion Ledger, "Miss. ballot initiatives are cause for concern", June 10, 2011
  15. The Clarion-Ledger, "Voter ID initiative remains a black-and-white issue", October 15, 2011
  16. NECN.com, "Voter ID proposal on Mississippi ballot Nov. 8", October 27, 2011
  17. Press-Register,"Editorial: Strengthen voter ID law," February 22, 2010
  18. The Mississippi Press,"Editorial: Jackson County helps break impasse over voter ID," March 11, 2010
  19. The Meridian Star,"Meridian Tea Party collects signatures for Voter ID Initiative," November 16, 2009
  20. 20.0 20.1 Madison County Journal, "Perry / GOP pushing Voter ID," July 23, 2009
  21. WJTV,"Mississippi Secretary of State Receives Voter ID Petition," February 11, 2010
  22. Sun Herald, "SH - GOP needs more signatures for voter ID bill," September 11, 2009
  23. Associated Press, "GOP Says Voter ID Will Be on 2011 Ballot," February 12, 2010
  24. NCSL.org, "State Requirements for Voter ID", Retrieved February 8, 2011