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Republicans thought they could suppress the vote this year with a variety of new laws, including state requirements that citizens show a photo ID before casting their ballots. Courts in New Hampshire and Georgia approved their laws. But, in Texas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, the photo ID mandate has fallen to court rulings and other legal action. Mississippi joined those three on Tuesday. That came on the heels of news that Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett won't appeal Tuesday's ruling that eliminates the photo ID requirement in his state for this year's election.

Unlike Pennsylvania, where the nation's strictest photo-ID law ran afoul of state courts, Mississippi falls under the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That law was passed to end various "Jim Crow" laws and regulations that for decades had kept most African Americans in the South from casting ballots. Under the law, 16 states or parts of states must have major changes in their voting laws "pre-cleared" by the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ's request for more information in its review of the Mississippi law means it won't be in place for this year's election, according to Attorney Gen. Jim Hood.

"All the DOJ is saying in this response is that they need more details of the state's plan in order to make a determination," said Hood. "What this means is that the voter ID requirement will not be in place before the November election. You will not be required to show ID at the poll until DOJ interposes no objections or pre-clears Mississippi's voter ID bill." [...]

In its letter to the state, the Justice Department asked Hood's office whether the state has determined that voter ID "will not have a retrogressive effect on minority citizens in the effective exercise of their electoral franchise." The DOJ also asks to review a detailed description of any measures the state intends to put in place to "ameliorate this prohibited effect, which Hood said would include the rules and regulations being created by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Hood said much of the information is already compiled, but the rest will take a while. Once DOJ has it in hand, it has 60 days to respond, well beyond an election that is less than five weeks away.

The DOJ has not pre-cleared South Carolina's voter-ID law, and the state took the matter to federal court. A ruling is expected soon.

The key aspect of Pennsylvania's new ID law fell by the wayside Tuesday when Judge Robert Simpson granted a partial injunction blocking it. Voters can still be asked for a photo-ID at the polls, but they will be allowed to vote the same as voters with IDs instead of on provisional ballots as was to have been the case. Gov. Corbett could have appealed the case to the state supreme court, which has already reviewed it once, leading to Simpson's ruling. But if he had, the timing would most likely have made the law moot for this election year anyway.


12:17 PM PT: Information about Gov. Corbett not appealing the Pennsylvania ruling came from Reuters. But the news service may have misinterpreted his remarks when he said Tuesday evening: "No final decision has been made, but you can see which way we're probably leaning."

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 09:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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