Director of Voting Rights, Bri McLarty, discusses this past legislative session and legislative proposals brought forth by Civic Nebraska.
This legislative session saw an early victory with the defeat of LB 111, the voter ID bill, in late February. On General File, 25 senators voted to bracket LB 111, effectively killing the bill for the session. Civic Nebraska has long held that voter ID is a non-partisan issue that would negatively impact Nebraska voters and we were pleased that 25 state senators, 12 Democrat, 12 Republican and 1 Independent, agreed and stopped this harmful legislation from becoming law.
Several of our legislative proposals to increase accessibility to our democratic institutions met with tough opposition from some members of the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. This session we attempted to incorporate past reservations of implementation of Election Day Registration (EDR) by proposing a pilot program, similar to what was introduced and implemented in Utah. We brought forth information and experiences from Utah county election commissioners that participated in the pilot program. The Utah clerks found EDR to be easy to implement with no additional costs, however the Government Committee has yet to take action on this bill.
Additional legislation, online vote-by-mail request forms and county-to-county portability are still in committee; pre-registration for 16-year olds was killed in committee.
All in all, it was a tough session that saw amazing victories, but frustrating defeats. While disappointed with the lack of focus on investing in proposals to increase voter participation, we are excited about the completion and implementation of online voter registration this year. We anticipate the successful investment in technology to register voters can only lead to more innovative and cost-savings measures to modernize our election administration for the convenience of Nebraska citizens.