JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The 2009 legislative session starts next Tuesday with a special opening ceremony at the old capitol building in downtown Jackson.
But, what won't be new for lawmakers will be talk of election reforms, specifically voter identification.
So what are the chances that changes will be made to Mississippi's voting process?
The talk of voting reform is back at the state capitol. The legislature created this election reform review panel and its findings were issued through Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's office in December.
"Voter ID has got a new resurgence," said Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, (R) Brandon.
So much so, Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant made it a part of his agenda for the '09 session. But the senate passed voter ID last year only to see it never come to the House floor for a vote. This year however, Representative Brandon Jones is already preparing to bring a bill forward that includes voter ID and early voting.
"Having elections that are perceived to be safe and run in a proper way is an important concern and having elections that encourage people to get out and get involved in the process is very important," said Jones.
Jones believes voter ID and early voting will do just that. However, the election reform review panel found costs may be a concern for circuit clerks across the state to staff offices open for early voting. The Lieutenant Governor has other concerns.
"If it is secure, if we know it can be restructured and if it might eliminate for example what I think is the abuse on absentee balloting I'll consider it," said Bryant.
House majority leader Tyrone Ellis wouldn't commit either way.
"It's hard to say what opposition people will have. I think it's going to have a little more favorable then what we've had in the past," said Ellis.
On top of voter ID, early voting and absentee voting, the report also addressed purging voter rolls, assisted voting, stiffer penalties for election fraud violations and curbside voting reforms.
All of this is talk until the session begins and a bill is actually before lawmakers. But the discussions are encouraging to voter ID proponents.
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