Elections should run smoothly with ID law, Dionne says
Published 10:40 am Friday, March 7, 2014
Conducting this year’s elections in Warren County for federal and local offices under the purview of Mississippi’s new voter ID law should be a snap for poll workers and voters alike, an elections commissioner said Thursday.
Statewide, 310 Mississippi Voter ID cards have been issued this year to comply with the 2011 initiative OK’d by the state’s voters to amend state law to make showing photo ID mandatory at the polls.
Warren County has issued four IDs and the process of showing them and others when the county’s 30,000 or so voters show up at the polls.
“This is really not a big deal,” District 4 Election Commissioner Sara Carlson Dionne told the Port City Kiwanis. “Most people already have a photo ID.”
The Mississippi Voter Identification Card is available free at circuit clerk’s offices statewide. 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.
“It can even be expired,” Dionee said. “If it’s been issued up to 10 years before the date of an election, it qualifies.”
Dionne, first elected to the commission in 2012, gave a modicum of credence when asked whether ID fraud was a substantive problem in Warren County.
“I do know, as I and the other commissioners have updated the rolls, we have had a handful of dead people who have voted,” Dionne said, without offering specifics. “We have not had hundreds of these, but we have found a handful of them.”
In 2013, Dionne pushed for an upgrade to the commission’s link on the county’s main website. The page now helps voters look up their correct voting precinct. Getting the word out on voter ID remains paramount, Dionne said.
“I really don’t want someone who’s voted in every election for the last 70 years to come vote, then not have an ID,” Dionne said.
Poll workers in Warren County will check ID’s mainly to see if a voter’s picture reasonably matches the voter and cross-reference the date of birth to the pollbook.
“We’re looking primarily at the picture,” Dionne said. “I’d say 80 to 85 percent of the time, it should match the pollbook, with the right birthday.”
A photo ID is also mandatory for absentee voting in circuit clerks’ offices nationwide.
Ten types of photo IDs will be accepted at the polls. They include a driver’s license, a state-issued ID card, a U.S. passport, a government employee ID card, a firearms license, a student ID issued by an accredited state university or community college, a U.S. military ID, a tribal photo ID, a federally-issued ID and the Mississippi Voter ID Card.
Voters in 2014 will decide races in the state’s four congressional districts, one of two seats in the U.S. Senate, judicial seats in circuit and chancery court and various school board districts.