The Mississippi NAACP is asking federal officials to block what will likely become the state’s new voter ID law, contending it will violate the 1965 Voting Rights Act by diminishing the voting strength of minorities.
Because of Mississippi’s history of racial discrimination, the state is required to get federal approval for any changes in election laws or procedures.
Supporters of the voter ID law say it’s needed to protect the integrity of elections. Opponents say it could suppress turnout among poor, elderly or minority voters.
“The presumption is because of Mississippi’s history of discrimination against black citizens and denying black citizens the right to vote, any voting change could not be pre-cleared unless the state proves it does not discriminate,” said Carroll Rhodes of Hazlehurst, an attorney for the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “We feel certain the state cannot meet that burden of proof.”