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franklin county times

Clark trumpets election reforms

By By William F. West / community editor
July 31, 2002
Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark, heading into the Neshoba County Fair today, was trumpeting the cause of election reform.
Mississippi, like many other states, is working to improve its election process in the aftermath of the close and disputed 2000 presidential election results in Florida.
Clark told The Meridian Star late Tuesday his specially appointed anti-fraud task force came up with three proposals successfully approved at the statehouse.
The most significant one of the new Mississippi election laws, Clark said, calls for a statewide voter registration system that links every circuit clerk's office with an integrated computer.
Under such a system, officials would be able to keep up with and share information including about who is registered to vote, who died, who moved to another city or town or who lost their right to vote after being convicted of a crime.
Clark said the bill would provide about $22 million to $23 million for Mississippi over a three-year period. Other states are competing for similar funding.
The other Mississippi reform deals with statewide standards for counting votes.
Clark wants to make sure that each county uses the same criteria for determining whether a particular ballot should be counted if it is questionable.
The third reform has to do with looking into the number of uncounted votes in each county.
In a matter more specifically related to Mississippi's elections, Clark wants to reach a compromise on the disputed issue of requiring citizens to carry voter identification with them when they go to the polls.
Supporters of voter ID continue to argue that they want to prevent corruption and fraud. Opponents of voter ID maintain that it will intimidate people in a state where civil rights came at the cost of human lives.
Clark noted that the issue has been "kind of a political hot potato" for several years.
Clark said that a successful bill must have bipartisan and biracial support. He said that proposed legislation had the support of state House Speaker Pro Tempore Robert Clark, D-Ebenezer, but failed to pass the House and Senate election committees.

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