“Being on the campaign trail from February to now, I kept hearing people tell me story after story in county after county how voter fraud needs to be cleaned up,” Hosemann said in a telephone interview last week.
As a result, Hosemann is proposing a voter identification program that would be augmented by early voting to reduce the number of absentee ballots going out. He also said he would increase poll worker training and certification programs to make sure elections are fair.
Smith, who does not see voter ID as a necessary component of voter reform, believes a task force of circuit clerks and election officials should come up with a comprehensive package that would encourage more voters to come to the polls.
He discussed an early voting program for senior citizens and “same-day registration, same-day vote” legislation that would encourage more people to vote. But his final proposal would not come until after the task force completes its work.
“What we’ve said from day one is that we will work with the circuit clerk to come with comprehensive voter reforms and we will look at whatever the circuit clerks bring,” he said. “That package can include everything, but at least you have experts telling you the way to run an election. You don’t just have some politician telling you one thing.”
Smith said poll workers are already allowed to ask voters to state their age and address, which can be verified in the poll books, which he said addresses the issue of people voting under others’ names.
Hosemann cites a poll conducted in late September by Public Opinion Strategies, a Republican firm in Alexandria, Va., that shows 86 percent of Mississippians believe voter fraud is a problem in state elections while only 8 percent did not think it was a problem.