Thursday, March 29, 2012
Board gets Voter ID update
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall County Board of Supervisors were recently briefed by Sen. Bill Stone and Rep. Steve Massengill on several issues in Jackson.
They said a request for local and private legislation that would allow the county to bill for garbage collection through utilities was not considered necessary. The county can attach a lien for uncollected garbage fees on any property and get its money through the tax sale.
Counties already have the authority to withhold sale of a vehicle registration sticker until a delinquent garbage bill is paid.
Voter ID enabling legislation – House Bill 921 – was also discussed.
Stone said the Senate bill on voter ID died and legislators are awaiting the passage of a House bill. Massengill said the bill provides, but is not limited to, seven acceptable forms of photo identification that can be used at the polls.
• a current and valid Mississippi driver’s license.
• a current and valid identification card issued by a branch, department, agency or entity of the state of Mississippi.
• a current and valid U.S. passport.
• a current and valid employee identification card with photo issued by a branch, department, agency or entity of U.S. government, the state of Mississippi, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of the state.
• a current and valid Mississippi license to carry a pistol or revolver.
• a valid tribal identification card with photo.
• a current and valid U.S. military ID card.
• a current and valid student ID card with photo issued by a college, university, or community or junior college in Mississippi.
• an official Mississippi voter ID card with photo.
The bill provides that no fee shall be charged or collected for the application for or issuance of a Mississippi Voter Identification card. The cost will be borne by the state’s general fund.
Supervisors were concerned for those people who were born by midwives and who have no birth certificate on record. The senator worried that people in Marshall County have to travel to Olive Branch, New Albany, Ashland, Ripley or Oxford to get a driver’s license and how this may impact voters who have not had their driver’s licenses renewed.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas said you can now get a driver’s license renewed in Olive Branch without assistance using an automated machine similar to a self-help check-out counter at a store.
Circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter, in a separate interview, said the voter ID bill would have to be reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, which recently turned down South Carolina’s voter ID law that contained many similar provisions as in HB 921.
She has several concerns with the legislation:
• the bill does not provide for someone vouching for the birth and identity of another.
• people who have been voting absentee in many past elections and who never are able to come to the polls may have difficulty obtaining a photo ID.
• the state will have to pay the cost for the production of ID cards, and she said the state already is strapped financially.
“Can you imagine what this is going to cost us when we don’t even have enough money to run the schools?” she asked. “This is just adding more financial burdens on the counties and state (to pay for photo ID). I am concerned about the elderly who are not going to have a picture ID. What provisions are going to be made for them? And they have been voting all these years.
“To me, voter fraud has not been satisfactorily proven. You may have some isolated examples, but there is not wholesale voter fraud in Mississippi, I don’t believe. But the amendment has passed and we are going to have to live with it.
“We’ve got so much to do. We’re wasting energy where we ought to be spending it somewhere else for something that is really necessary.”
To reverse the amendment, either the voters would have to circulate a petition for a referendum to negate the one passed last year or the Legislature would have to take it up, Carpenter said.
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