Civil rights leaders in Mississippi are warning that voting rights around the state are under attack. As MPB's Paul Boger reports leaders feel there is an ongoing movement to suppress votes cast by minorities and the poor.
It's been nearly a year since the U-S Supreme Court abolished section five of the Voting Rights Act that called for federal over-site of elections in Southern states. Now, civil rights leaders in Mississippi are saying that voter suppression has made it's way back to the Magnolia State. Derrick Johnson is the President of the Mississippi Chapter of the NAACP.
"50 years ago, blacks in Mississippi organized what we now call Freedom Summer to ensure that everyone had the right to vote, and here we are 50 years later and we're still battling the same issues that we fought." he says. "This is America, this is a democracy. Our democracy is only stronger when the citizens participate and we should encourage all citizens to participate and not seek out ways to suppress votes."
Johnson points to policies like the state's new voter I-D law, legislative redistricting and changes to polling venues as evidence of discrimination. However, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says there has been little change in how the state runs it's election since the law was over turned.
"We follow the constitution." Hosemann says. "The constitution says you cannot discriminate based on race creed or any other thing, and we don't violate the U.S. Constitution or the Mississippi Constitution for that matter. I see very little change in our state."
Democratic State Lawmaker David Blount of Jackson is the Vice-Chair the Senate Elections Committee. He says there are simple things the state can do to guarantee secure and honest elections.
"We ought to have early voting; most states have early voting." Blount says. "We ought to have same day voter registration. If you have to show your I.D. under current law, and you do, there is no reason not to let that person register and vote. Finally, we ought to allow online voter registration. Not online voting, but online voter registration."
Next Tuesday's party primaries will mark the first time Mississippians will have to show I-D in order to vote.