By HottyToddy.com blogger Cristen Hemmins
I was stunned to see that our Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, wasted absolutely no time in initiating Voter ID in Mississippi as of today. To quote his press release, “The process for implementation of Constitutional Voter Identification begins today.”
This is incredibly fast, on the heels of this morning’s historic Supreme Court of the United State’s ruling which struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act requiring regions with histories of institutionalized racial discrimination — i.e. MISSISSIPPI — to receive federal approval before changing voting laws.
As a friend said, “The pairing of this decision (repealing part of the Voter’s Rights Act) with Hosemann’s statement is so offensive. It is so patently corrupt, to work to prevent citizens from voting. It makes me sick.”
“Mississippi citizens have earned the right to determine our voting processes,” says Hosemann in his statement. “Our relationships and trust in each other have matured. This chapter is closed.”
Such a statement is frankly ridiculous. And especially ironic when it comes up in my newsfeed juxtaposed to so many Paula Deen apologists and defenders! To think that the SCOTUS and our own Secretary of State would essentially say, “GREAT NEWS, GUYS! RACISM IS OVER,” is utterly laughable. I would laugh, if I were not so utterly disheartened.
Voter ID laws are created to suppress voting. Anyone who argues that they are to stop election fraud is kidding themselves. Studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack such ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely. Indeed, despite the Department of Justice’s 2002 “Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative” promising to vigorously prosecute allegations of voter fraud, the federal government obtained only 26 convictions or guilty pleas for fraud between 2002 and 2005. TWENTY-SIX, in 4 years, in all of America. This is a solution looking for a problem. Voter fraud of this nature simply does not exist.
I have a friend whose mother will now not be able to vote. She is disabled, and her old ID is expired, and in order to get a new ID, she needs a birth certificate, and in order to get a birth certificate, she needs an ID…it’s simply not as “easy” as some would like to think. There are many people, especially in a poor state like Mississippi, who do not have the $25 required to get a birth certificate. Making them do so is essentially imposing a voter tax. Why in the world would we want *fewer” people voting?! We already have a sorry lack of interest in voting in America. Why make it even harder for the few people who feel motivated enough to get out and vote to do so?
As Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, commented this morning in her dissent, “Throwing out the Voting Rights Act when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
Furthermore, the whole point of voter ID is to discourage people who normally vote for Democrats — the poor and the disenfranchised — from voting. It’s blatant. And it’s wrong. It’s the loser’s way. If Republicans had a winning message, they wouldn’t have to pull this kind of move. And I am sick that this is happening in Mississippi.
“Voting is a right, not a privilege. Voting rights were won by blood in Mississippi. We will never yield in our defense of the full and equal rights of every Mississippi citizen,” says Rickey Cole, Chair of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Today’s moves besmirch the efforts of the men and women who bled and died for the right to vote. We cannot afford to go back in time, Mississippi. We simply cannot.
Cristen Hemmins got completely immersed in the battle to defeat Initiative 26 in MS (The Personhood Initiative) in 2011, and was interviewed live on The Rachel Maddow Show, MPB, BBC radio, and other media outlets in print and television. Feeling completely fed up with not being represented in Mississippi state government, she’s now Vice-Chair of her county Democratic party, is on the State Democratic Executive Committee, and was a delegate to the 2012 DNC.
This native Mississippian is self-employed and sells ads for a few different print publications in her spare seconds of not being a political activist. Her kids are 6, 8, and 10, and she is happily married to an Englishman. They all live in an old farmhouse on the edge of Oxford and enjoy their flowers, chickens, veggies, cats, a bunny, a dog, and a guinea pig. Email Cristen at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter: @CristenHemmins.