Don't show up at your precinct on Tuesday drunk, waving a gun or offering to buy a vote. Those are a few things not allowed at polling places in Mississippi. (Actually the prohibition against a gun is for a poll watcher; not a voter.)

In Mississippi you can't campaign within 150 feet of the door to the building where people are voting. You can't bully or intimidate or offer compensation to voters to choose a candidate. And if you're not a candidate, a voter at that precinct, a poll worker or a poll watcher, you shouldn't be in the voting area at all.

Texas stood by their secure voting area rules last week to the point of an international incident.

When Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott heard election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe planned to monitor precincts in the Lone Star State, he warned them "Failure to comply with [Texas election law] requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law." The OSCE appealed to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for relief and the State Department briefed reporters that the observers have diplomatic immunity.

Abbott didn't back down. In a letter to Clinton he wrote, "It appears that OSCE is under the misimpression that the State Department can somehow help its representatives circumvent the Texas Election Code. Texas law prohibits unauthorized persons from entering a polling place-or loitering within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance-on Election Day. OSCE monitors are expected to follow that law like everyone else." The OSCE eventually met with Texas officials to work out an observation plan that did not involve violating Texas law.

Mississippi precincts routinely enjoy the company of federal election observers and observers from the Mississippi Secretary of State. But there is a space of 30 feet in every direction from the polls in which only the election officers, two challengers selected by each party and voters in that precinct are allowed.

This is supposed to prevent some of the abuses exposed by the Mississippi Republican Party in Greenwood in 2008 when escorts brought in voters and instructed them on how to vote. When a precinct is crowded and unruly with unauthorized people milling about or posted up at machines, it is difficult for election officials (often elderly) to enforce the rules. It gets down right easy - like shoplifting a vote in a crowded market.

Voter assistance is only permitted in Mississippi if a voter is blind, physically disabled or illiterate, and when the voter verbally requests that assistance. Apart from absentee voting fraud, illegal voter "assistance" is one of the more documented Mississippi election law violations.

Despite the rhetoric of voter-ID opponents, voter identity theft is also documented. I interviewed a woman whose vote was stolen in Brookhaven (her father's vote was also stolen, but he was deceased at the time). As a poll watcher in Meridian, I witnessed a man come in and when told he wasn't on the roll, give a different name and point to that name on the voter book. And a Republican poll watcher in Rankin County in 2008 caught a man who had voted, left and changed clothes, and had come back to vote again. Governor Kirk Fordice submitted volumes of evidence to the Justice Department when he was advocating or voter-ID.

Despite a citizen initiated and approved constitutional amendment requiring a photo voter-ID in Mississippi to prevent vote thefts, voters will not have to show identification or proof of residency at the polls this election. The Department of Justice has not cleared Mississippi's voter-ID requirement. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Attorney General Jim Hood both issued statements making that clear. A letter-to-the-editor by state Senator Kenny Wayne Jones on behalf of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus stressed to voters, "Remember, no one can request a citizen's photo identification or question their residential status....If you are asked for identification of any kind, your rights have been violated...."

Hosemann, Hood and Jones are correct, except some voters may actually have to show identification this election. It isn't a violation of their rights; it is federal law.

First time voters who register by mail who do not provide proof of identification are required to show proof at the polls. The poll books even have a mark by their names notifying election officials to ask for identification and poll workers are trained for such an occasion. This should impact very few Mississippians because the mail-in registration form asks for identification proof, but notes if it is not provided the information will be requested at the poll.

So Tuesday, go vote. But don't take your whiskey and don't take your driver's license - unless you're driving which required in Mississippi (the license, not the whiskey).



Brian Perry is a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at: reasonablyright@brianperry.ms or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.