By Jack Elliot | Associated Press
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi voters on Tuesday approved a proposed constitutional amendment to require that voters present government-issued identification at the polls.
The issue has been debated at the Mississippi Legislature for 15 years. Republican Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall with backing of the Mississippi GOP launched a petition drive that got the initiative on the ballot.
The amendment seeks to require every person voting in Mississippi to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls.
While supporters called it commonsense legislation, opponents said it could be viewed by black citizens as an attempt to diminish minority voting.
“It is unfortunate that as it relates to voting rights and access to the ballot box, Mississippi has gone backward,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP.
He said voter ID has not been shown to decrease incidents of voting fraud. Johnson said he believed that voter ID will result in an “increasing number of individuals being denied the right to vote.”
Johnson said the NAACP has not decided whether it would mount a legal challenge to the initiative.
“This law has nothing to do with combating voter fraud and everything to do with disenfranchising low-income, elderly and minority voters,” said Nancy Abudu, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “For a state with a sorry history of voter suppression, this is another shameful day.”
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