Though it has yet to be fully implemented, Mississippi’s new voter identification law is already posing a challenge to some people hoping to register to vote. That’s because some residents are trapped in a legal limbo where, to get a voter ID, they need a birth certificate, and to get a birth certificate, they first need a photo ID.
The dilemma, first reported by the Jackson Free Press, could potentially keep otherwise-eligible voters off the rolls come November unless something is done to remedy the problem. A spokesperson for Mississippi’s Secretary of State confirmed the catch-22 to the paper.
Mississippi is one of several states that have aggresively pursued voter ID laws to crack down on alleged voter fraud. Under the state’s new rules, voters must present an approved form of photo identification in order to vote. The state is offering free IDs to anyone who needs them, though to get one, applicants must present a birth certificate. However, to get a birth certificate, applicants for that documentation also need a photo ID. Not having a photo ID is why most people need a voter ID in the first place.
The Mississippi voter ID law is currently on hold because it is under review by the Department of Justice. Critics contend that the law, and others like it, infringe on voting rights and disproportionately target poor citizens and minorities.
Mississippi voters approved the constitutional amendment in 2010, with 62 percent of voters favoring the ID law.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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