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GOP Chairman: Voter ID close to reaching minimum signature requirement

Magnolia Marketplace just wrapped up a 10-minute conversation with Brad White, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party.

Nothing is official yet, as the process of certifying signatures is ongoing, but White feels pretty confident enough registered voters have signed petitions in favor of a voter identification law that the issue will appear on the statewide ballot in 2011, giving Mississippians a chance to vote for or against it.

“I’m not ready to jump out and say we’ve got enough, but it looks like we’ve brought in a big enough cushion that we can get there even if the verification process drops some of the signatures,” White said.

Per state law, at least 18,355 signatures from each of the old five congressional districts have to be certified by the circuit clerks of each county in the districts. That would put the minimum number of signatures required for an initiative to make it onto the ballot at 91,673, or 12 percent of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. White said it’s possible the final tally from each of the congressional districts would exceed 20,000, pushing the total from all five above 100,000.

If the initiative does indeed have the requisite number of signatures, it would then head to the Legislature in the 2011 session, where upon its arrival two things could happen: Lawmakers could go ahead and adopt the initiative into law, or they could send it to the ballot for fall 2011.

The county committees of the State GOP, Tea-Party groups and other organizations have spent the past year rounding up signatures for the initiative. Magnolia Marketplace heard reports last fall of people circulating petitions at high school football games, and even witnessed some of the effort firsthand in the Grove.

“This will bring clean voter ID,” White said. “There will be no hangups like people being able to use their electricity bill as identification or anything like that. This initiative mandates that only government-issued ID (such as a driver’s license) is acceptable at the polling places. This is better than any legislative proposal that’s been brought up.”

The Mississippi GOP will hold a press conference Thursday, White said, to update the latest with the certification process.

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