AUTHOR: SUMMER

HED:Secretary of state hopeful Walters stumps in Northeast Mississippi

By Jane Clark Summers

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH - Secretary of State candidate Nick Walters is bringing his campaign for election reform to Northeast Mississippi this week.

If elected, the Republican candidate said he will push for modified open primaries and voter identification.

"We need a system where you can have the freedom to vote for both Democrats and Republicans on primary election day," said Walters, who made stops in Corinth and Booneville on Tuesday. He will be in Tupelo today and was in Columbus on Monday.

Open primaries would allow people to vote for a sheriff candidate on one ticket and a candidate for governor on another, Walters said. Many voters get discouraged and don't even vote in the primaries because they can't vote for who they want to be elected, he said.

Voter ID

Requiring voter identification will help cut down on voter fraud, the Wiggins native said.

"You need an ID to cash a check, to check into a hotel, even to rent a vehicle," he said. "Why shouldn't we require one to exercise our fundamental American right to vote?"

There is no logical reason why voter identification should not be required, Walters said.

"Voter fraud is everywhere," he said. "Most voter fraud in our state happens when people mail in fake absentee ballots."

Walters proposes eliminating absentee voting unless the voter has a medical excuse showing that he or she is physically unable to go to the polls.

If elected, he said he will reallocate funds to establish a voter fraud prosecution unit in the secretary of state's office.

Walters said he is tired of "finger-wagging politics" and will run on the issues.

A seventh generation Mississippian, Walters has helped campaign for pro-family, pro-business conservatives such as U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, Governor Kirk Fordice and U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker.

Walters is manager of Southeastern government affairs for Johnson Controls, a Fortune 500 building environmental company.

He serves on the Mississippi College Alumni Association Board of Directors, the executive committee of the Ridgeland Centennial Commission and is a member of the Mississippi Economic Development Association, Mississippi Right to Life and the National Rifle Association.

He holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Mississippi College.

Walters, 32, is married to the former Lisa DeCell of Memphis. The couple has one son, Porter, who's 3. The family resides in Ridgeland where his wife serves on the board of aldermen.

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