White met with local Republicans and the media at Tupelo City Hall to announce details of a massive petition drive. The GOP needs some 100,000 signatures to put the voter ID issue to a public vote.
If Republicans reach their goal by Oct. 1, the initiative will be on the November 2010 ballot. If not, a Feb. 4 deadline will get it on the November 2011 ballot. Otherwise, the effort will die.
Legislators have tried to pass various forms of voter ID laws for the past few decades without success. It would require voters to show identification before casting a ballot.
Supports say it will help prevent voter fraud; opponents say it will present a hardship to voters.
"Personally," White said during his 30-minute press conference, "I don't know any reason why anyone wouldn't support this."
Some 50,000 signatures have already been gathered, but only about half have been verified by county registrars, White said. All need to be verified before they're turned over to the Secretary of State.
In Lee County alone, roughly 3,000 people have signed on - many of them Democrats, said the county's Republican Party Chairman Mike Maynard.
"Nobody has balked at it," he said. "Everybody thought it'd be great."
State Sen. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, also supports the effort. Nunnelee, who likely will run for Congress next year, said the measure will protect the integrity of the ballot without hurting the voting process.
"In this economy," he said during the conference, "people are used to showing their ID to cash a check or use a debit card."
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or email@example.com. Also read Emily's blog, The Government Grind, at NEMS360.com.
Sign the petition
If you support voter ID, sign the petition through a local Republican representative or visit one of two Web sites: