Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant [official website] on Thursday signed [press release] legislation [HB 921 materials] that would require voters to show photo identification at all elections. The bill enacts a constitutional amendment that was approved by 62 percent of Mississippi voters [JURIST report] in the November election. Upon signing, Bryant said:
This legislation is about protecting the integrity of Mississippi's elections. ... This legislation is a direct result of the majority of Mississippians expressing their desire for a constitutional voter ID requirement in the state. We want everyone to participate in the election process, and we want that process to be fair and secure.The bill will not take effect immediately, however. Because of Mississippi's history of racial discrimination, the new legislation must be approved by the US Department of Justice [official website] under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [Cornell LII backgrounder]. The DOJ has recently rejected similar laws in Texas and South Carolina [JURIST reports].
There are now 32 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, but the issue remains controversial. Earlier this month, a coalition of civil rights groups filed a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania's new voter ID law [JURIST reports]. Last month a Wisconsin appeals court refused to rule on an injunction [JURIST report] currently blocking that state's voter ID law. In February the Virginia Senate approved a voter ID law [JURIST report]. Last June Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo ID at voting booth.