Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jeppie Barbour's "Dog Whistle" Email Suggests New Ways to Stop Voters in Mississippi

Every once in a while, something comes across our desks that throws one of us in a funk. Like many Mississippians, even Cottonmouth writers would like to think that we've moved forward as a state. In many ways we truly have.

But today we've come across an email that is particularly troubling to me. In an open transmission to conservative leaders across Mississippi, Jeppie Barbour (Former Governor Haley Barbour's brother & former mayor of Yazoo City) sent out a list of explanations regarding some of the more...confusing aspects of Mississippi's newly implemented Voter ID law. In it, he explains how photo identification can (should?) be used as an "application of good faith", and that the rules are essentially left to the poll workers for interpretation.

For example, Barbour encourages his allies to change their IDs, so that they exactly match that of the poll books:

Let’s look at examples. There’s the voter registration name and the driver’s license name.


            Johnny Smith and John Taylor Smith

            Mary Wilson Jones and Mary Jones Howard (She’s gotten married or re-married).

            J. L. Jackson and John Louis Jackson

            Mrs. Betty Bond and Betty Anderson Bond


Make your own decision on these people but remember that you don’t get a say at the polls. People who have these two names are at the mercy of the poll workers. Even honest poll workers will turn down some of these.



But not only does this email lay out a very specific set of instructions on how to follow the law, it also highlights it's deliberately confusing arbitrary rules, and explains to poll workers how easy it is to drop someone off of the voter rolls.

One of the more stunning admissions comes a few paragraphs down:

That will mean that we have a good faith application of the law but people whose names are just a little different can not be sure that they’ll get to vote.

There are other people who can be very sure that they WILL NOT be allowed to vote. They won’t vote unless they re-register.

Read the whole thing after the jump, presented to you in full. It might just make your head explode.



To:          Conservative county leaders

From:      Jeppie Barbour

Subject:  Voting under the new Voter ID




Three years ago, you, and a lot of other people, helped get signatures on the petition to present Voter ID to the voters of Mississippi. Then, two years ago, you helped get the support at the polls to pass the new constitutional amendment.

A couple of months ago the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that Mississippi did not have to get the approval of the Justice Department in order to apply Voter ID. So, starting with the next election, everyone who appears at the polls will be required to present a government-issued photo ID (usually a driver’s license) in order to vote.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and his staff will soon offer training to local election leaders and that training will include the application of Voter ID on election day. We’ll have better and more honest elections with this law. However there’s one point that many have overlooked.

You know that your picture on the ID must look like you and that’s not what was overlooked. Also, your name on the ID must appear on the poll book at your precinct. You can’t vote if you don’t have an ID or if you’re not on the books (except for an affidavit).

The name on your ID must be “substantially similar” to the name on the poll book. In other words, voting will be limited to those who are registered and whose name on the poll book is exactly like, or very similar to, the name on the ID.

There are people whose name on the driver’s license is not the same as the name on the poll book. But, they’re OK if the names are “substantially similar”. What does that  mean? Your opinion of the meaning doesn’t matter and neither does mine. Two names are “substantially similar” if the poll worker thinks they are. It’s his decision.

We have over 2,000 voting places in the state. There will be over 15,000 poll workers who will be deciding whether two names are “substantially similar”. That will mean that we have a good faith application of the law but people whose names are just a little different can not be sure that they’ll get to vote.

There are other people who can be very sure that they WILL NOT be allowed to vote. They won’t vote unless they re-register.

Until last month my wife and I were two of those who needed to re-register. I was registered to vote as J. F. Barbour, III but my driver’s license says Jeptha Fowlkes Barbour. My wife was registered as Mrs. J. F. Barbour, III and that didn’t match her driver’s license. We both went to the Circuit Clerk and re-registered. Now our voting names are EXACTLY THE SAME as the driver’s license.

I believe that half the married ladies in the state are registered to vote as “Mrs. Somebody”. Their driver’s licenses will show the first name and the married name but won’t come close to matching “Mrs. Somebody” They have to re-register if they’re going to keep voting. “Mrs. John Smith” and “Mary Johnson Smith” aren’t close.

There are people registered to vote under their nicknames (Sonny Brown). The driver’s license won’t have the nickname so they’ll have to re-register.

There is no question that the people in these cases must re-register. There are many other people whose two names are “substantially similar” -  at least they might be in the poll worker’s opinion.   Remember that a poll worker will make the decision. Do these voters want to take the chance?

Let’s look at examples. There’s the voter registration name and the driver’s license name.


            Johnny Smith and John Taylor Smith

            Mary Wilson Jones and Mary Jones Howard (She’s gotten married or re-married).

            J. L. Jackson and John Louis Jackson

            Mrs. Betty Bond and Betty Anderson Bond


Make your own decision on these people but remember that you don’t get a say at the polls. People who have these two names are at the mercy of the poll workers. Even honest poll workers will turn down some of these.

I suggest that everyone look at his situation and see whether his names are close to matching. If his names are not exactly the same then he should decide whether he wants to go and re-register to vote. If he doesn’t re-register, and then doesn’t get to vote, it will be as a result of his own decision.

I hope that you will get your allies and supporters to talk about this. They need to try to see that all their friends know the situation and have the chance to decide for themselves

We should get help from candidates. The Senator and Congressmen who will run next year and the legislators who will run in 2015 and local candidates coming up in 2015 and city officials and people who are thinking about running against these incumbents – need to get their friends involved to make people aware of the situation. You can’t win an election if your friends can’t vote.

Newspapers can be helpful, so can the radio. What about civic clubs? And don’t forget the Republican Women. Don’t forget the Tea Party activists. Organized groups of volunteers can be helpful even if they set up a group to work in one selected precinct.

Don’t forget the school kids. Some have just registered and may need to change it. Others need to be encouraged to register and someone should explain the right way to them. The ones who are already off at school should be urged to tend to it while home some weekend – or they can wait until they are at home for a school holiday.

People who need to register, or to re-register, must get it done by 30 days before the election in which they intend to vote.

Don’t forget registration by mail. Re-read that remark. It’s important and so is this sentence – if the re-registration process is slow at the Court House, then those who live in the city limits can register (or re-register) at the City Hall.

Even if you have a strong conservative county you can still lose the next election if you fail to get your people to do what the liberals are willing to do.

If you can get a list of registered voters then you can contact people and ask them to see whether their two names match. You’ll be sure of the registration name and they will have the ID.

I don’t think there will be any official organization regarding re-registration  - nobody to report to and no specific procedure. Just do what you can and get what help you can but remember that the results of the next election will, to some degree, reflect on you and on local conservative organizations.

I have lost several hundred e-mail addresses so please forward this message to everybody in the state whose e-mail address you know. I still have 233 e-mail addresses that represent friends and political supporters and business contacts. You’re one of them. I hope that you and the others who receive this e-mail are interested.

I have about 2,500 names and addresses, or numbers, mostly people who helped get signatures for the Voter ID petition. Others are friends and political supporters and business contacts but most were helpful with the petition. Most of you will know a number of them. I will E-MAIL you the names and addresses for all from your county – if you ask for them.

Most of these people were a lot of help on the petition and should be asked.


Thank you

Jeppie Barbour

2 comments:

Casey Ann Hughes said...

Please tell me that there are not women in Mississippi registered to vote as "Mrs John Smith" instead of "Mary Smith". Please tell me this is another Republican fantasy.

watercolordaisy said...

The voter registration required my full middle name but my drivers license only has room for the middle initial. Now what.