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Trust but verify

Trust but verify

By: Magnolia Tribune - July 26, 2012

The Brennan Center study on Voter ID continues to make its rounds in the media after the Associated Press picked up Bobby Harrison’s piece in the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. YallPolitics has already exposed that the Brennan study was more activism than academia with partisan political and financial links to none other than George Soros.

Now we’re back on the trail to point out a few of the glaring inaccuracies documented in the study for the sake of our readers and all who desire the facts on Mississippi’s Voter ID efforts currently underway.

First, it’s worthwhile to note that the precursor to this study was published in October 2011, before the voters in Mississippi passed the ballot initiative by some 62% and before Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had worked with legislators, circuit clerks, and concerned citizens to ensure the best possible implementation of the overwhelmingly well received measure.

The Brennan Center did release an updated document highlighting the new law in their recent press release but they did not significantly revise their findings in the study based on the information now available some nine months after the initial publication was released.

But we can’t let the facts get in the way of the headline, now can we?

One of the authors of this study is a self described organizer, lobbyist and trial lawyer and has served in a leadership capacity for the Democratic National Committee.

Now both authors are out promoting their ideas at the Huffington Post and other similar publications. They certainly don’t seem to be pursuing the non-partisan academic journal route to make their research known. This is political. There’s no problem with that, but they’re pretending its academia and reporters are falling for it (or cooperating with it) hook, line and sinker.

The study politically lumps together what it calls “10 states with restrictive voter ID laws.”

Here’s a look at a few of the most obvious fallacies related to Mississippi’s Voter ID efforts as alluded to in the report:

• The study criticizes Mississippi and the other nine states referenced for not giving voters adequate opportunities to obtain an ID as well as forcing them to drive for long distances without access to public transportation for those without vehicles. Mississippi’s Voter ID efforts, however, allow voters to visit one of 92 offices in 82 counties each open on average from 8am-5pm Monday through Friday and on Saturdays the weekend prior to absentee voting deadlines. The vast majority of Mississippians are within 15 miles or so from one of these offices. The Secretary of State’s office has also actively dealt with the issue of transportation by coordinating with local agencies to provide those who cannot find a ride to one of these offices. The concerned voter simply has to reach out and someone will assist them.

• The study points to the “significant costs” of obtaining the appropriate documentation to acquire an ID, stating that “birth certificates can cost between $8 and $25,” relating such costs to “the notorious poll tax – outlawed during the civil rights era.” Insert the dramatic music. But in Mississippi, verifying your birth certificate to then obtain an ID to vote cost $0 – that’s right, nothing, zilch, zero.

• The study references what it terms “The Mississippi Catch-22,” a “particularly perverse set of rules” in obtaining an ID to vote. It states that to obtain an ID, voters will need a birth certificate but to get a birth certificate you have to have an ID. In actuality, there is no “Catch-22” in Mississippi as they would have you believe. Verifying a birth certificate can be done with other proofs of identification (i.e. social security card, driver’s license, military ID, etc.) allowing the voter the opportunity to then obtain an ID in a reasonable time frame (usually within 3-7 days). In addition, an integrated computer system will allow a clerk to look up and verify a birth certificate ideally on the spot using other proofs of identification. Further, if in some extreme case a person has never been issued an ID or other proofs of identification, a voter can provide the clerks with two affidavits from persons who know the voter which will then be accepted to verify and provide an ID. And all of this is being done at no expense to the voter obtaining the ID.

• The study uses the Mississippi Department of Public Safety – the Highway Patrol – as the offices where voter IDs will be obtained. According to recent reports, it would appear that most of the offices being used for voters to obtain an ID will be through county circuit clerks at courthouses in the county seats as well as ancillary offices as determined.

• The study claims that some 48,000 low-income Mississippians will be negatively affected by the new Voter ID law. But according to Secretary of State Hosemann’s office, a mere 75 people have contacted them concerning the law and only 35 had no ID, this after the office has placed thousands of posters in county courthouses, mailed out thousands of postcards and repeatedly appeared on radio and television outlets around the state speaking on the issue, not to mention the numerous print media stories on the new law. There is no verifiable data to prove that 48,000 people will be disenfranchised as the study would have you believe.

There are other inaccuracies in this Brennan Center report but I hope with these few examples you can see just how disingenuous this report truly is regarding Mississippi’s Voter ID law. It does not give a fair assessment and is merely a piece of liberal propaganda aimed at undermining the will of a majority of voters in Mississippi and beyond.

It is indeed unfortunate that this organization, whether funded by George Soros (as it is) or a bleeding red conservative (which it isn’t), would so blatantly mislead the general public, not only here in the Magnolia State but in sister states like Alabama, Texas, and Florida. And what’s more appalling is that the AP or any affiliate news organizations here in Mississippi didn’t have the foresight to review and verify the information as presented by Bobby Harrison.

Evaluate the study for yourself and do your own comparisons. Don’t take the media’s word for it. I’m confident you will be just as exasperated by what you find.

As the old saying goes, “Trust but verify.”

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Y'all Politics staff.