CHICKASAW COUNTY – A new state law requires voters to be able to identify themselves to poll-workers and has prompted a new photo ID card to be be made available from local circuit clerks.
The new technology and equipment were provided to the Chickasaw County Circuit Clerk’s office earlier this year and went on-line in the middle of February.
“We have not seen a lot of people lining up to get a voter ID and don’t expect to,” said Chickasaw County Circuit Clerk, Sandra Willis. “We’ve had about a dozen people come here and to our Okolona office to get an ID.”
Willis said the state recognizes 10 forms of identification that would allow a person to vote. Those ID’s range from a state driver’s license, military ID, passport, firearms license, a college ID, or a Mississippi Voter Identification Card.
“Around here most of our poll-workers know the people in their precinct by their name,” said Willis. “They recognize their neighbors and usually have the poll books open to their page when they step up to the table.”
Willis said the new law was actually designed for higher population density counties or places where there are a lot of people moving into an area.
“But this is the law and I will say we don’t know everybody,” said Willis. “The voter ID will make sure anyone who wants to vote can vote.
“I want people to understand it is never the intention of a poll worker or this office to stop anyone from voting,” she added. “The problem is if poll-workers have a question, they are bound by law to make sure all questions are answered before they allow a person to vote.”
And while voting is a right, it also has to be conducted rightly.
Willis said she felt that was the state’s reasoning in requiring voter ID.
Those without ID may cast an affidavit ballot which will be counted if the voter returns to the appropriate clerk’s office within five business days after the election and shows government-issued ID. Voters with a religious objection to being photographed may also vote affidavit, after which the voter returns to the clerk’s office and signs another affidavit that the religious exemption applies to them.
Showing a photo ID is also mandatory starting this year for absentee voting in clerks’ offices statewide. Mississippi’s law, unlike several other states, accepts expired photo IDs at the polls as long as it’s not more than 10 years old.
In November 2012, the Secretary of State’s Office a survey of almost 6,000 Mississippi voters as they exited 30 polling locations selected randomly across the state. Survey results show only 0.8-percent of voting Mississippians having no acceptable form of photo identification.
“This is extra work for us,” said Willis. “We have a form that we go through. If you have another form or identification, we ask that you use that.”
Obtaining a voter ID does not cost anything.
Willis said anyone with questions about whether they needed a voter ID or not, can call her office at 456-2331, 447-2838 or stop by the Circuit Clerk’s office at the Courthouse in Houston or Okolona.