The Carpet Bagger's Journal — moving from NYC to Mississippi

May 30, 2011

Voter ID as the new expression of racism in Mississippi

What the cops used to do in Mississippi voters of color -- now the Republicans want to institute an ID requirement in the same spirit of oppression.

It’s a crime today in Mississippi to do what the cops in this photo are doing — preventing a black man from registering to vote.  However, the Republican establishment of Mississippi, given their fear of a black activist voting population, want to make it effectively harder to vote in the State of Mississippi.  The Republicans are trying to introduce voter ID measures in the state that are unAmerican and anti-human-rights.

How can it be that in a country that requires ID to drive and to purchase alcohol that providing ID would be anti-democracy?  Imagine for a moment that the white men in this photo holding the black man in submission let go of him.  Let’s say they let him register to vote, get to a polling place.  Then, looking him square in the eye, filled with the implicit threat of their hatred of his rights, they demand to see his ID before he casts his ballot.  In a small town, one perhaps like the one in Mississippi where the prom is still segregated, voter ID is a deterrent for the people of color of the community the way that these cops holding this man back from registering to vote was a deterrent in the early 1960s.  Fair-minded people ought to be outraged at the very suggestion of a voter ID bill by Republicans, who desperately would like the black population of Mississippi to stay home on the first Tuesday of November.

The Republicans claim their concern is for voter fraud, but they re not concerned about fraud at all — the only game-changing  frauds are in the GOP, given the low, low turnout for most elections.  In many of districts in Mississippi, the majority of adult citizens are black.  This is a consequence of slavery and generations of share cropping.  In some districts, the percentage of people of color is above eighty percent.  Yet the majority of eligible persons are not voting.  The Democrats bear some responsibility for this — in some cases they have failed to inspire a turnout.  However, no one will doubt that the majority of people of color, were they to vote in the State of Mississippi, would not vote for candidates like Haley Barbour, who is the darling of white racists and a former presidential hopeful for the Republicans.  They would vote for Democrats.  Yes, an election where less than half of the people who might have voted actually vote is fundamentally fraudulent.  This by itself is not the fault of any one political party, but an initiative to limit access in even the slightest way to the ballot should shock the sensibility of any American.

Ironically, often the Republicans run in Mississippi on the notion that government needs to get out of our lives,  that regulations are unAmerican.  The gun laws in this state, for instance, are so very lax that I don’t even need to have a permit to own one on my own land.  I could own an arsenal without showing ID, one that would make David Koresh look like he was unarmed.  That’s the way Republicans want it.  However, if they get squeamish at the idea of voting without ID, I wonder who they think they are fooling.  Frankly, their work reminds me, particularly given Mississippi’s very libertarian gun laws, of the revolt to racist thinking that inspired  Malcom X to write his  famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” Is that a choice for any  citizens in the 21st century?  Have we overcome so little in Mississippi  since this photograph was taken about 40 years ago?  Republicans just want these cops in this photo to look the black voter in the eye, check ID — intimidate — and keep this  man and  his family away from the polling places.

They disgust me.


  1. I don’t get it. How is requiring ID to vote a violation of any kind of rights at all? You don’t have to have a car or drive. In GA, you can get a state issued ID for free. Plus there are a number of other forms they’ll accept including Social Security cards. Surely everyone has some form of identification. I understand the argument that of course the other party would not want turnout that would keep them from winning, but you have to have some way to verify someone is a registered voter. I mean at least a voter registration card. Why is that so much to ask. I think you’re barking up the wrong tree here, even if it is backwards- ass MS.

    Comment by Jeff Whatley — June 9, 2011 @ 12:07 am | Reply

  2. I don’t know about GA, but everywhere I’m aware of requires PHOTO identification. When you register to vote, that’s when you have to prove who you are, and many types of identification are accepted. We did not have to show ID to actually vote, until the Republicans figured out it would significantly lower voter turnout. There is election fraud, but not the type where someone pretends to be someone else. This is a cure for a non problem – and the only reason for it is to increase Republican percentage of votes. It’s just a modern version of Jim Crow.

    Comment by Casey Ann Hughes — June 16, 2011 @ 4:19 am | Reply

  3. Explain to me how people who voted in the 60’s who were beaten, sprayed with water cannons, attacked by dogs and yet they still voted can be intimidated by someone asking for an ID to prove they are who they say they are. My wife worked the polls and several people would proudly show their ID. All of them were black. Also, the people in charge of the pollworkers is black. This law will not stop people from voting. Unfortunatly this law will not stop voter fraud, as ID’s can be faked also.

    Comment by Claude Leaman — February 12, 2012 @ 7:59 pm | Reply

    • Dear Claude,

      I am certainly against fraud. The thing I feel most offended by with this new law (instituted in November by State Initiative 27) is the motivation of those who proposed it. If I had my way, we would have exhortations in every post office, every DMV, every governmental institution that people encounter, to get out and vote. I honestly believe that if 100 percent of those eligible to vote did indeed proactively participate in electoral politics, getting information about what their elected representatives were doing and what each party platform contained, we would have a much better government.

      As to your question, I stand by my explanation in this blog entry as to how this could happen. I think that voting should be easy and encouraged at every level.


      Comment by annebabson — February 12, 2012 @ 10:48 pm | Reply

    • Eleven % of Mississippians do not have a PHOTO id, for various reasons. They are predominately the elderly, students, and minorities – people who tend to vote Democratic and obviously for good reason. Most elderly do not have photo id once they quit driving – and don’t need it. To obtain a photo id, you first have to travel to a drivers license facility, which keep bizarre hours. Many have no way to get there. When they get there, they have to prove who they are – and how are they to do that? Right now to get a license, you have to have another photo license and your social security card. A passport will not do – I know that because my daughter, who lives in Europe, wanted to get a license here so she could drive when she gets home but could not. For first timers, you must have your birth certificate or a certified copy. How many people have those? Do you know how difficult and expensive it is to do that? Some people, especially the elderly, do not even have one. Finally, if you can’t afford a photo id, you have to prove that. Most people cannot go through all that. Black people know what this is – absolute racism – and they’re afraid. The people who went through that in the 60’s are much older now, and you can’t blame them for not wanting to go through it again. They thought we were finished with Jim Crow, but they were wrong. He’s back with a vengeance.

      And there is NO voter fraud where people to pretend to be who they aren’t. That is just something made up by the Republicans to justify what they’re doing. Unfortunately, some people are dumb enough to believe it – or they’re racists. Either way, like the author of this blog, I am totally disgusted by them.

      Comment by Casey Ann Hughes — February 13, 2012 @ 1:23 am | Reply

  4. I really can’t imagine that the elderly stop having an ID after they stop driving. After all, they go to the grocery store and most likely write a check. They have to have ID. I’ve had a MS drivers license for nearly 30 years and never found the DMV to keep bizarre hours. Something like 9:00-4:30. Not bizarre. If someone wants to vote, they will. Asking for an ID is in no way intimidating. I’m about as liberal as they come, which is really strange in Mississippi, I know. But I don’t get how showing an ID will keep anyone from voting. I read the post and didn’t see an explanation that made sense in there either.

    MS is already a republican state, almost always. Why would the republicans be wasting time trying to keep people from voting who might vote democrat? They aren’t voting anyway. I’m pretty sure I can find many more important issues to be outraged over than having to prove who I am when I go to vote.

    Comment by Rebecca Benson — June 22, 2012 @ 4:15 pm | Reply

  5. Our DMV is on the outskirts of town. You have to have a car to get there, so many people can’t go – not to mention the hours are always during working hours and only on some days. There is a significant portion of the population who do not have checking accounts. They deal strictly in cash and need no id. That’s why check cashing stores make so much money – that where they have to cash their paychecks. There is also an element of fear and distrust of the government – and many are afraid to get ID. Just because it’s easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone. Believe me, there is a whole lot of people who won’t be able to vote because of no photo ID. To me, voting is an absolute right of every citizen, and the burden should be on the government to prove they are not eligible – not the other way around. That’s like assuming guilt until proven innocent. I know a lot of people who will be deprived of their absolute right to vote because of this legislation – and it’s very sad and unAmerican.

    Comment by Casey Ann Hughes — June 22, 2012 @ 8:33 pm | Reply

  6. Fantastic. This is a factual explanation of all that’s happening right now in Mississippi. Thank you for telling the truth. Here we are four years later and practically all you have said has been proven to be true–undeniably. Yet the answer — passing the federal law making election day a national holiday treated just like Christmas where people don’t lose any pay for leaving work and voting. Most poor people cannot risk losing their jobs by asking off for an extra hour to vote. Voting is important. People seem to have forgotten about that. It is time that we reminded them by rewarding them (so Pavlovian).

    Comment by Suanne Strider — June 6, 2015 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

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