Last month I wrote about efforts to collect signatures to put a photo voter-ID measure on the statewide ballot. The column elicited several responses, among them one from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (D-Brookhaven) who suggested I got one part of the column wrong.

She was right.

I mentioned House Bill 1533 (after amendments known as the Early Voting Act) and wrote, "[Some Republicans] objected to early voting, same day registration, and felon franchisement provisions in the legislation. While the Democrats on the committee would not vote with these three to strip the troubling provisions from the bill, the Democrats were willing to vote with the Republicans to table the bill, thus killing it."

The vote in committee was 4-3 with Republicans Billy Hewes of Gulfport, Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, Merle Flowers of Southaven and Chris McDaniel of Ellisville voting to table, and Democrats David Blount of Hinds County, Hyde-Smith, and Tommy Dickerson of Waynesboro voting against tabling.

HB1533 would have created early voting starting twenty days before the election, required voter ID for most voters, allow re-enfranchisement of certain felons, and allow for new voter registration up to three days before election day. It passed the House of Representatives. In the Senate, tabling the bill in committee effectively killed it.

"I was truly in shock," Hyde-Smith told me. "I strongly believe in voter ID. I've been in the Senate for twelve years and have supported voter ID all twelve years." Hyde-Smith said she would "not have been OK with everything in the bill, but I was very confident it would have gone to conference and we could have fixed it at that point."

Republican Senators feared the House would have concurred and enacted the troubling portions of the bill. Hyde-Smith said, "I would have taken [the House] concurring with it because we would have had something on the books at that time. But I feel confident it would have gone to conference."

But my column was correct in describing the motivation of Republicans who objected to the bill's other provisions.

"My vote was one of principle. In my opinion, a pure Voter ID bill is too important to compromise," McDaniel told me. McDaniel praised House Republicans for their voter ID efforts against "stonewalling and obstructionism" from Democratic House leadership. McDaniel said when he heard a voter ID bill passed the House, he was "cautiously optimistic. But, after a thorough analysis of HB1533, my guarded optimism was replaced by pressing concern." McDaniel believed any election integrity brought by voter ID would have been undone by felon voting, early voting, and late registration.

McDaniel said many reports over this matter overlooked the Senate's passage of a pure voter ID bill (SB2548) in early February. Every Senate Republican voted for that measure authored by Terry Burton of Newton. The bill died in the House elections committee along with at least three other pure voter ID measures authored by conservative Representatives.

So who killed voter ID? Republicans or Democrats? The answers might be either, both, or (cue the Perry Mason music) neither, because voter ID is not dead.

Fillingane, with help from the Republican Party, is sponsoring an initiative to put real photo voter ID on the statewide ballot. Last week, Republican Chairman Brad White took voter ID on a campaign style tour making stops in Jackson, Natchez, Meridian, Columbus, Tupelo, Hernando, Greenville, Biloxi and Hattiesburg. White spoke to the press flanked by Republicans, some of whom opposed the tabling of the Early Voting Act, some who supported it. "We're united in our determination to give all Mississippians the opportunity to vote for photo voter ID on a statewide ballot," White said.

The Mississippi Democratic Party issued a statement accusing Republicans of "losing touch with what matters most to the people." But the party doesn't speak for pro-voter ID Democrats.

Hyde-Smith supports the voter ID initiative and intends on signing a petition, but wishes voter ID could have been passed during the session. "I hope [the initiative] works and I hope we get it. I truly want voter ID," she said.

The need for voter ID hits home for one of Hyde-Smith's constituents. A few years ago, Jennifer Jackson of Brookhaven went to vote only to be told she had already voted. She assured the poll workers she had not, but they showed her where someone had signed her name. She also discovered someone had voted for her deceased father.

"If someone had to show an ID, they couldn't have been able to steal my vote or vote for my poor dear dad. I don't think that is too much to ask," Jackson said. She continued, "It was really disturbing to me, and it's so easy to stop it from happening: show identification. I can't imagine why anyone would be opposed to voter ID, unless you're the politician the crooks are voting for."

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at