Analysis: Minority Voters Overwhelmingly Rejected Mississippi Voter ID Law

Less than 25 percent of non-white Mississippi citizens voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment to require voter ID at the polls compared to about 83 percent of white voters, according to a newly released report.

An estimated 75 percent of the state’s minority population rejected “Initiative 27,” a constitutional amendment requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, while only about 17 percent of white voters went against the proposal, according to a report by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.Their analysis found that the precincts that voted against the measure closely mirrored the precincts with majority non-white populations.

The initiative was passed in November with 62 percent of the vote, and the legislature is currently working to enact a law with the details. The Justice Department must sign off on the proposal because Mississippi is covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to have their voting laws “pre-cleared.” Attorneys in DOJ’s Civil Rights Division recently rejected a proposed voter ID measure in South Carolina, finding that the state’s statistics showed that minority voters comprised 30.4 percent of the state’s registered voters but 34.2 percent of those registered voters who lacked DMV-issued photo identification.

“Our analysis shows that Mississippi’s voter ID law is another example of a law with a racially discriminatory effect being implemented over minority voters’ strong objections,” Executive Director Barbara Arnwine said in a statement. “Seventy-five percent of minorities in the state said ‘no’ to having to comply with what amounts to a modern day poll tax in order to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he believes that their plan is constitutional because the Supreme Court ruled that Indiana’s voter ID law was constitutional, though progressives maintain that case didn’t address the racially disparate impact of voter identification measures.