In a puzzling turn of events, some Republicans in the Mississippi Senate – including its presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant – have lost enthusiasm for getting a voter identification bill through the Legislature.
For years they’ve tried and the House has killed the legislation. This year the House passed a bill that would require most voters to present photo identification at the polls, but the Senate Elections Committee killed it last week because it contained provisions committee members didn’t like.
The usual procedure would have been to strike the parts of the House bill the committee objected to, pass it and send it back to the other chamber. Instead, long-time supporters of voter ID killed the bill without even trying to amend it.
They say they’re ready to use the state’s initiative provision to gather enough voter signatures to get it on the ballot as a constitutional amendment.
This issue doesn’t belong in the Constitution, and it’s baffling in a year when progress has finally been made in bringing House members – especially black legislators – toward compromise, the Senate committee would call a screeching halt to it. Political gamesmanship, anyone?