House Bill 121: Voter ID Bill Filed Burdensome to Inviduals with Disabilities, Seniors

Attached is a Voter ID bill, House Bill 121, filed by Rep. Bill Denny and referred to the House Apportionment and Elections Committee.
Download the Bill filed by Rep. Bill Denny

This bill is intended as enabling legislation for the Voter ID referendum which passed in the November 2011 election. Highlighted are some of the key passages in the bill for your convenience.

This bill is about disenfranchisement, not protection of the integrity of the electoral process.

This bill makes it clear just how onerous and burdensome it is intended that Voter ID be upon those parts of the electorate (individuals with disabilities and seniors) that have the least access to transportation and personal documentation. It continues to be an oppressive solution to a non-existent problem.

The bill provides for 9 different forms of photo ID, starting at Section 2 (line 16) of the bill. The ID must be current and valid. Among the 9 forms of photo ID, 7 forms of identification are issued by a MS state agency, one by the US government (passport) and one by a tribal government.

This bill would require every person who obtains a state-issued voter ID card to turn in the card and go through the process of obtaining a new state-issued voter ID card every time the person changes residence, even if the person remains within the same precinct in which they have been living and voting.

Driver’s license identification: Under this bill presentation at the polling place of an expired driver’s license on which the person’s picture and vital information is included will NOT be sufficient identification under the bill. The driver’s license will have to be current and valid.

As written the bill states at Section 6 (line 88) what information will be required to obtain a valid MS Voter ID Card:

(6) The registrar shall require presentation and verification of the following information during the application process before issuance of a Mississippi Voter Identification Card:

(a) A photo identity document;

(b) Documentation showing the person’s date and place of birth;

(c) A social security card;

(d) A Medicare card;

(e) A Medicaid card; and

(f) Such other acceptable evidence of verification of residence in the county as determined by the Secretary of State.

My hope is that Section 6 above meant to say that the registrar shall require only one of these forms of identification. However, the way the bill is written it shall be mandatory that the registrar require ALL of these forms of identification before issuing a MS Voter ID Card. The operative word appears at the end of subsection (e) where it states “and”, when it would be preferable if it said “or”. If it said “or” then the voter would have a choice of which documents to present. My fear is that the language is intended to require the registrar to ask for all of these documents. As written this provision will disenfranchise a great many people who do not have the records demanded under this provision, notwithstanding that they may have lived and voted in that county for 50 years.

It is unclear as to what is meant by a “photo identity document” in subsection (a). If you already have a document with a photo that will satisfy the registrar that you are who you say you are, then why is there a need for a state issued Voter ID Card?

Furthermore, the Secretary of State, without the approval of the legislature, is delegated the authority to add any additional forms of identification required.