Meridian Star

Local News

November 16, 2009

Meridian Tea Party collects signatures for Voter ID Initiative

A 30-day petition drive by the Meridian Tea Party to collect signatures needed to get a Voter ID Initiative on ballot next year has exceeded expectations, according to organizers.

"It's been a good process; hopefully, we'll be able to turn in over a thousand signatures," said Paul Tarver, co-founder of the local organization.

Tonight, the signatures – which have been certified by the Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk's office – will be presented to Jeppie Barbour of the Mississippi Republican Party during a public meeting at the EMEPA Auditorium. Barbour spoke to tea party members in October about the Voter ID Initiative. He will provide an update on the process at tonight's meeting.

About 90,000 signatures are needed. According to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, more than half have been gathered thus far.

"Last time I checked, they were approaching 55,000 signatures," Hosemann said last week.

The Republican party is in charge of acquiring the signatures; the secretary of state's office will have to confirm them. Signatures have to be equally divided between five congressional districts.

"So you could have 25,000 in one (district) and 6,000 in another and you wouldn't make the requirements for the initiative," Hosemann said.

Signatures collected by the Meridian Tea Party represent five counties: Clark, Newton, Neshoba, Kemper and Lauderdale.

"Most of the signatures that we gathered were from Lauderdale," Tarver said. "But from what I understand, the area that includes Lauderdale County is head of the other districts."

As of Monday, more than 750 signatures had been gathered; however, Tarver said not all members have reported their totals.

"They probably will deliver them at the meeting, and we think that will put us over a thousand," he said.

A Web site has been set up to track each signature by district. The required signatures must be gathered by Feb. 14, 2010, to get the initiative on the 2011 ballot.

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