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Miss. lawmakers discuss voter access amid nationwide reform
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Privacy voting booths are set up six-feet away from each other in the worship center of the Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland, Miss., on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. 
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Nationwide, the topic of voter access if reaching a fever pitch. In an address yesterday, President Joe Biden confronted the efforts of some states to restrict voting. In response, state lawmakers discuss voter access in Mississippi.

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Last year, more people showed up to vote in the 2020 general election than ever before. Since then, Democratic President Joe Biden says there's been a nationwide Republican push to tighten ballot restrictions. Under the microscope are southern states legislatures like Texas and Georgia. In Republican led Mississippi, some Democratic leaders believe the voting process is already restrictive. Senator Angela Turner-Ford of West Point is chair of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus.

"We don't even have the days of early voting they have in Georgia and yet there's even more of an effort in Mississippi to make the process more restrictive than it is," said Turner-Ford. "There does not seem to be a general appetite for early voting in the state of Mississippi and I think the governor actually said it will not happen."

Earlier this year during the 2021 legislative session, there were bi-partisan efforts to expand early voting in Mississippi.

Representative Jansen Owen was among a handful of Republicans supporting the measure but it ultimately died in committee. Owen did support efforts to clean up voter rolls.

"Having a process in place that makes sure we're keeping only registered voters on the rolls who live in Mississippi, making sure that our rolls are not too bloated in some of these areas, I think that's an important reform.," said Owen.

"As far as our security is concerned we need to work on it and of course we need to work on it to where we're not unfairly affecting legal voters who should be on the rolls."

The bill to purge inactive voters from the rolls passed the Senate last session along party lines, but failed in the House. Senator Turner-Ford says she's concerned it may reappear next session. Representative Owen feels both parties can find middle ground on the issue.