JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers have squabbled for at least 15 years about whether to require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of identification at the polls. They haven’t enacted a voter ID law, but the issue never disappears and the passion surrounding it never seems to diminish.
Now, it’s moving to the Nov. 8 statewide ballot through the initiative process. Voters in the general election will decide whether to put a voter ID requirement in the Mississippi constitution.
If the initiative passes, it will be examined by the U.S. Justice Department, which could block a voter ID requirement or let it take effect. Because of Mississippi’s history of racial discrimination, the Justice Department reviews any proposed election changes to ensure that they don’t adversely affect minority voters.
Supporters say requiring voters to show ID will help ensure the integrity of elections by preventing people from masquerading as others to cast ballots.
Opponents say voter ID amounts to a form of a poll tax, and that it could intimidate older black voters who were once prevented from exercising their constitutional rights under Jim Crow.
The two candidates for governor have different views about the voter ID initiative.