Voter ID gets signatures needed for vote

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NATCHEZ — Supporters of voter identification have gathered enough signatures, including 2,014 from Adams County, to put the issue to a statewide vote in 2011.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced Monday that his office had verified 131,678 signatures. Only 89,285 were required.

Local Realtor Sue Stedman was a part of the Adams County Republican Party’s effort to collect signatures.

“It was just an amazing effort,” Stedman said. “(Hosemann’s announcement) is music to our ears, I can assure you.”

Though Stedman and fellow Republican Party member Johnny Junkin led the effort locally, it was individuals that made the difference, she said.

“We had lots of good help. There were lots of people who got 10 signatures and lots who got 110.”

Supporters of voter ID argue that it is necessary to decrease instances of fraud at the polls, and that many other states already have ID laws in place.

Opponents argue that voter ID requirements could reduce voter turnout among older voters, especially black voters who were once subject to Jim Crow laws.

But Stedman said those collecting petitions met little opposition.

“We only had one or two reports of people saying they met people who didn’t want to sign,” she said.

Local Democrat, and former mayor, Phillip West said for some people it’s not an opposition to ID requirements, but simply a desire to make sure everyone feels comfortable voting.

“I just want to make sure whatever happens would not limit or restrict people’s right to vote,” West said. “I’m concerned about the elderly folks who may not drive and may not have a picture ID. I just don’t know what the end result would be.”

Stedman said the spirit behind the petition is one that would allow for provisions for those voters without adequate ID.

Stedman said she, and others, would spend time prior to a November 2011 election explaining the details and educating voters on the issue.

“We are anticipating this is going to be a very successful effort,” she said.

Petition signatures had to come evenly from each of the five congressional as they existed in 2000.

Congressional District 4, which contains Adams, Wilkinson and Franklin counties, among others, turned in 25,733 signatures.

And Stedman said she feels they could have gotten many more.

“Hindsight is 20-20, and I think there are an overwhelming amount of people in Adams County who would have signed the petition,” she said. “If we knew what we know now, we would have gone door-to-door.”

The original Adams County goal was 1,350 signatures, but when word came in that other counties in the fourth district were coming up short of their goals, Adams County leaders pushed harder.

“We decided then that we needed to put on a full-court press,” Stedman said. “We were just thankful we were able to do what we could.”