JACKSON — Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has released a statement in response to an article from a university educator who criticized Mississippi’s voter ID law.
Hosemann wrote: “A recent editorial article by Alan Draper of St. Lawrence University is so misleading, inaccurate and an example of lazy journalism mixed with weakly guised prejudice, I believe a reply was necessary. Not deserved, but necessary.
In Mr. Draper’s comments concerning Mississippi’s implementation of a government issued voter ID, he indicated shortly after the Supreme Court issued the Shelby decision, the “Mississippi’s Attorney General announced plans to implement the State’s Voter ID Law.” Actually, that was the Texas attorney general. The secretary of state of Mississippi (who happens to be me) called the U. S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division within minutes of the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision.
“In that conversation, and the written correspondence which followed, we offered to maintain open Mississippi’s voter ID regulations pending any comments the U. S. Justice Department deemed appropriate. We did so for six months. As part of Mississippi’s implementation, we provided free transportation to any citizen to the local circuit clerk’s office (99 percent of the citizens of Mississippi live within 20 miles of a circuit clerk’s office), we provided free verification for birth certificates at the circuit clerk’s office and free issuance of a Mississippi voter ID. Over 2,000 of those were issued. Following any election, voters are given a week to return with photo identification and verify their ballot.
“The unsubstantiated claim as to the availability and the possession of photo identification by any voting population is totally false. In two statewide elections, which included both democratic and republican primaries, 99.9 percent of Mississippians exhibited satisfactory photo identification. No one was deprived of their right to vote. Particularly, the reference to the quote that our state continues “to deprive people of their vote, with the same sordid racial overtones continues today” is false, an unsubstantiated personal opinion and not those of the voting citizens of the state of Mississippi. No litigation was filed concerning Mississippi’s implementation of voter ID by the U.S. Department of Justice, any citizens group, or any citizen. This was not the case in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Texas, Arkansas, North Carolina or Georgia. But, it was in my state of Mississippi…
“I noticed St. Lawrence University has a three percent minority enrollment. Should Mr. Draper desire to visit an integrated university, we would welcome him to visit any of Mississippi’s universities or junior colleges.”