The Clarion-Ledger, 3/10/9

Efforts to revive legislation that combines voter ID with early voting failed Monday in the Mississippi Senate, even after four Republicans who helped kill the bill last week reversed course.

GOP Sens. Merle Flowers of Southaven, Billy Hewes of Gulfport, Joey Fillingane of Sumrall and Chris McDaniel of Ellisville angered many in their own party by nixing House Bill 1533 in a committee last week. They decided to support the bill’s resurrection, although Hewes and Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant stressed they still oppose an early voting provision included in it.

Others in the GOP, including Gov. Haley Barbour, are open to allowing early voting as long as the process is secure. But Republicans downplayed their disagreements that resulted in the apparent death of voter ID – one of the party’s top legislative priorities.

“It doesn’t mean there’s a rift in the party. (Early voting) is an issue that’s going to take some discussion and understanding and education,” said Senate Elections Committee Chairman Terry Burton, a Republican from Newton who opposed killing the bill.