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State Senate revives voter ID for debate

By Staff
from staff and wire reports
April 10, 2004
JACKSON State Sen. Videt Carmichael says he sees no big deal in requiring people to show identification before they vote.
The Senate approved a resolution that allows lawmakers to file and consider a new voter ID bill before the 2004 legislative session ends May 9. The House approved the same resolution Wednesday.
Because normal bill-filing deadlines have passed, each chamber had to give at least two-thirds approval for a new bill to be written.
Supporters say requiring voters to show a driver's license or other identification would bring accountability to elections.
Opponents say the issue could be used to intimidate some people, particularly older black voters who once had to pay poll taxes. All senators who voted against reviving voter ID are black.
State Sen. Alice Harden, D-Jackson, one of the black senators, said Mississippi has a long history of trying to suppress minority voting power.
The movement to revive voter ID started a day after Republican Gov. Haley Barbour signed a comprehensive election bill that did not include identification provisions.
The bill he signed puts Mississippi in compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, which was written to head off the kind of election problems Florida experienced in the 2000 presidential race.
The Mississippi HAVA law gives Secretary of State Eric Clark broad authority to write election rules.
Clark, a Democrat, says he'll require voters who register by mail to show an ID the first time they go to the polls for state or local elections. It's the same requirement that HAVA makes for federal races.
But, Barbour said the state needs a broader ID requirement. And state Rep. Eric Robinson, R-Quitman, agreed.
State Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, said he, too, supports voter ID. He said he believes lawmakers have enough time between now and the May 9 end of the 2004 Legislature to approve voter ID.
Assistant Managing Editor Terry R. Cassreino contributed to this report. The resolution is House Concurrent Resolution 98. You can obtain a copy of the resolution by visiting the Mississippi Legislature's Bill Status Web site at