Plaintiffs want judge to reconsider decision on voter ID for state primaries

Plaintiffs in a lawsuit to limit

Mississippi primary election participation to party members want a

federal judge to reconsider his order mandating a voter photo

identification system.

In addition, in court documents filed Friday in federal court in

Greenville, the plaintiffs want U.S. District Judge W. Allen Pepper

to apply his party registration requirement to this year's Aug. 7


Pepper said his June 8 decision would not effect August party

primaries. However, Pepper said no party primates could be held in

2008 without both party registration and voter ID in place. His

order did not apply to general elections.

Statewide offices such as governor and lieutenant governor,

legislative seats and local offices such as supervisor are up for

election this year. The 2008 elections are for federal offices.

In his order, Pepper said political parties have a right to stop

non-party members from voting in their primary elections. He said

party registration and voter ID would do that.

Pepper ruled in a lawsuit filed in 2006 by plaintiffs wanting to

stop non-Democrats from voting in Democratic primary elections. The

Mississippi Republican Party was not involved in the lawsuit, but

Pepper said his decision applies to all party primaries in the


Plaintiffs did not ask for a voter ID system.

Plaintiffs attorney Ellis Turnage of Cleveland and Attorney

General Jim Hood could not be reached Saturday for comment. Hood

had said he would ask Pepper to clarify his ruling, but nothing had

been filed by the state by Friday.

Mississippi now has an open primary system, meaning voters don't

have to register by party and can vote in any primary they like.

The only restriction comes during the runoffs: A person who votes

in one party's primary may not then switch over and vote in the

other party's primary runoff.

The lawsuit was filed because some members of the Democratic

Party believe white Republican voters cast ballots in Democratic

primaries to manipulate the outcome of elections, Turnage has said.

Pepper said gave the Legislature had until April 1, 2008, to

pass laws implementing his order. He said the state should report

back to him by June 10, 2008, on whether the Justice Department

cleared the laws. The department oversees changes in Mississippi

election laws to ensure fairness to minorities.

In Friday's documents, Turnage said "mandating a voter photo

identification system to verify who participates in a primary

election constitutes judicial legislation in violation of the

separation of powers doctrine."

Regarding the 2007 primaries, Turnage said Pepper's decision

found Mississippi's primary system unconstitutional. By exempting

the 2007 primaries, Pepper deprived the plaintiffs of their right

to keep non-Democrats out of its party elections, Turnage said.

"For every constitutional violation which causes an injury,

there must be a remedy," Turnage wrote. "(The decision) legally

forecloses any post-election remedy and condones outcome

determinative party raiding in the primary and runoff elections."

While the federal courts do not readily postpone - or stop -

elections, they do allow plaintiffs to go back and show where

constitutional violations occurred, Turnage said.

By not applying his decision to the August primaries, Pepper was

denying the plaintiffs the right to challenge election results

should they be able to prove non-Democrats voted in the Democratic

primaries, Turnage said.