Sen. Merle Flowers, R-Southaven, said he didn’t like parts of the bill that allowed early voting, and GOP Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant agreed in a statement issued afterward. But the legislation’s death prompted outrage from other Republicans who had pushed for further negotiations. House Democrats also voiced disbelief.
Senate Elections Committee chairman Sen. Terry C. Burton, R-Newton, said he believed he was “ambushed” by the four Republican senators – Flowers, Sen. Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, and Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville. Burton said he’d received broad-based support for the bill from Republicans and Democrats alike and from Republican Gov. Haley Barbour.
“What really bothers me is that there was no effort by those who might have had objections to the bill to iron out those differences in the committee process,” said Burton. “That’s disappointing.”
What is clear is that Hewes wants to run for lieutenant governor and that Fillingane wants to lead an initiative-and-referendum push for voter ID. Flowers and McDaniel have less identifiable agendas, but it’s a shame to derail voter identification over petty partisan motivations.
If the four GOP senators and Bryant are fearful of early voting because of partisan concerns, they haven’t researched the matter. In the 2008 presidential elections, President Barack Obama won 28 states – 13 of which had early voting. Republican nominee Sen. John McCain carried 22 states – 17 of which had early voting.
Clarion Ledger Editorial