Voter ID was killed in the Senate Apportionment & Elections Committee earlier today. HB 1533, which would have created mandatory photo voter ID, early voting and registration three days before an election, had potential to put to rest one of the long-standing fights in Mississippi government.
It was a frustrating defeat for something House Republicans and conservative Democrats worked tirelessly to push through the House. We had to take HB 1533 as it was and amend it to include mandatory photo voter ID by piecing together 62 votes (we ended up getting 64 on the amendment and 77 on final passage). Even with our amendments, the bill had its faults, as other amendments were added in a five-hour debate back in February. Individuals born before August 1, 1944 were exempt. The voter registration three days before an election presented big logistical issues for circuit clerks. However- it was photo voter ID, and we pushed it through the House.
While I understand wanting a bill to be perfect, no bill ever will be. The common sense thing would have been for the Senate committee to send the bill to the floor, have the full Senate to have vote on it (and hopefully pass it) and send it to the Governor for approval. If this had been done, Mississippi would have had voter ID by July 1, 2009.
Now, we'll have to wait for Mississippians for Voter ID to gather enough signatures to the put the measure on the ballot as a proposed Constitutional amendment in November 2010.