Tuesday, November 22, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Only a small percentage of Mississippi voters did not take photo identification to the polls for the presidential election, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Monday.
More than 1.2 million people voted Nov. 8 in the state, and 560 of them did not show a driver's license or other form of government-issued ID, he said.
This was the first presidential election, but not the first overall, for Mississippi's voter ID law to be in place. Voters also had to show ID for the 2014 midterm federal election and for the 2015 statewide election for governor and other offices.
A person who lacks ID, or who forgot to take it to the polls, is allowed to vote by affidavit. But, the vote only counts if the person returns to the circuit clerk's office within five days to show identification.
Hosemann's office did not have information about how many of the 560 people returned with their IDs.
He said the 2016 presidential election was significant in Mississippi because it was the first time in a half century that the Justice Department did not send monitors to the state on Election Day.
"We have to remember Mississippi's history here," Hosemann said.
Because of its history of whites in power suppressing black voter registration and participation, Mississippi was one of several states fully covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The act meant the state had to seek Justice Department permission to make changes to its voting laws or procedures. However, a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2013 invalidated the pre-clearance part of the law.
For this presidential election, the Justice Department had election monitors in 28 states, and Mississippi was not on the list.
"In the end, it was the Mississippi voter that did this," Hosemann said, citing improvements in the state's election system.