The voter ID cards being issued by Mississippi starting next year are going to be a headache for both parties, according to long-time strategist in the Magnolia State.
Democrats have decried the measure as a modern-day poll tax while Republicans have championed the cards, which are being made available to those who don't have a government-issued photo ID, as a way to curb fraud. The Justice Department was investigating the law, but then the Supreme Court invalidated some of the Voting Rights Act last June. Now, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the ID cards will be available in early 2014. And that by primary season next June, voters will have to start showing photo ID at the polls, but not to vote by mail.
"The requirement that voters present a photo ID before voting is nothing more than an attempt on the part of Republicans to deter Democratic turnout," Jere Nash, a Mississippi-based Democratic consultant and author, tells C&E. "That being said, it will affect voters of all partisan affiliations, especially older voters and physically handicapped voters who do not drive and married women who have never updated their last names at the county courthouses."
In addition to Mississippi, Alabama, Kansas, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin all passed new voter ID laws in their 2011, 2012, or 2013 legislative sessions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan legal think tank.
Texas rolled out its strict voter ID requirement earlier this month when statewide constitutional proposals and several mayoral races were on the ballot. It resulted in an increase in provisional ballots being cast, but wasn't ruled a disaster.