House panel approves early voting, online registration

“Yes, things are changing,” Denny said of past partisanship on these issues. “It’s dissipating. I think a lot of it is from technology, getting away from paper voting, moving to computers … Look, for years when I went door-to-door I carried a copy of the paper form to register. It requires no witness, no notary … Now, you have to show your ID when you get your ballot. The computers can check things when you register.

“And we can already early vote now — 30 days in advance — with absentee ballots,” Denny said. “This takes away the lying, people claiming they’re going to be out of town.”

The change in partisanship, at least in the House Elections Committee, isn’t lost on Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, a member of the committee and longtime civil rights advocate.

“It is amazing,” Blackmon said. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘What era am I serving in now?’ But this has always been a good committee, very fair minded. I attribute that to Chairman Denny, who has served through Democratic and Republican administrations.”

It’s unclear whether the measures will pass through the full House. But Denny noted that a similar online registration measure passed the full House last year 118-2 and a similar early voting bill passed 120-0. The Senate ended up changing the online registration to allow only those already registered to change their registration online when they move. It killed the House early voting bill.

Geoff Pender
Clarion Ledger