Hosemann released a statement on Thursday regarding whether or not state law had a provision to provide free voter identification cards under the Mississippi Voter ID law.
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann said some media outlets have gotten facts about how Voter ID is codified in state law wrong, and that the provision regarding free Voter ID cards has indeed been codified into law.
“Recent news articles have stated a provision of Mississippi’s Voter ID law, allowing a Mississippian to be issued a free voter identification card, has not been codified in state law. Those articles are inaccurate. The provision requiring a free Voter ID card is provided for in state law,” said Hosemann.
He added that Mississippi Code Annotated Section 23-15-7 states, in part, ‘…No fee shall be charged or collected for the application for or issuance of a Mississippi Voter Identification Card. Any costs associated with the application for or issuance of a Mississippi Voter Identification Card shall be made payable from the state’s General Fund.’ ”
Both the Clarion Ledger and Mississippi Today reported that there was no way for a voter in Mississippi to obtain a free Voter ID in order to head to the polls. Mississippi Today quoted current Secretary of State Michael Watson in a recent interview with Paul Gallo on Supertalk, who said that the ability to be issued a free identification card to vote is not codified into law.
However, in April of 2021, Hosemann told Y’all Politics about the process to implement voter ID in Mississippi, which included access to free photo ID to anyone in the state (fast forward to the 8:30 mark).
“We’ve issued thousands of them free. Voter ID’s are free,” said Hosemann in the April interview. “We went so far as to get with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, they have a process where they pick you up if you can’t get to the doctor for example. We hired them to pick people up to get an ID.”
Hosemann said when the law was implemented they placed cameras and the blue background screen in every County Courthouse to get an ID for free, five days a week during business hours.
When demographics were run, Hosemann said 98% of Mississippians lived within 20 minutes of a place to get a free ID.
“Other state’s didn’t go to that extent and they probably should have,” said Hosemann.
The Lt. Governor detailed the process it took to implement voter ID in Mississippi 10 years ago. He credited a close working relationship with the federal Civil Rights Division and U.S. Department of Justice as the way Mississippi was able to pass Voter ID without the backlash of a lawsuit, like every other state that made the attempt encountered.
Mississippi’s law also includes the allowance of things like tribal cards and college ID’s to be used to vote.
Secretary of State Michael Watson shared his continued concern that the Mississippi Voter ID law could be in jeopardy due to the Supreme Court ruling.
“Regarding Voter ID, the statutory provisions about Voter ID cards make specific references to the Mississippi Constitution. My concern about Voter ID being challenged stems from the fact it was originally passed by a ballot initiative and put into the Constitution by a process the Court has now deemed unconstitutional in its recent ruling about the medical marijuana initiative process. While I believe a challenge would fail for several reasons, the safest way to keep our Voter ID law intact and prevent it from being in jeopardy is for the legislature to take quick steps to clean up the statutes instead of leaving it up to the judiciary to decide,” said Watson.