On Feb. 17, 2021, Director of Public Policy Westin Miller gave the following testimony to the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee of the Nebraska Legislature. The proposal in question is LR3CA, a proposal that would institute a voter ID requirement on Nebraska voters. Civic Nebraska opposes LR3CA.
I had some prepared remarks – basically a repeat of last year’s testimony in which I encouraged you to ask five questions about voter ID; questions you can and should ask about any policy:
- Is there a real problem?
- Is there evidence your policy solves the problem?
- Are you spending money?
- If so, is this the most effective use of taxpayer dollars right now?
- Is your bill written in the most effective and responsible form?
Those questions are really important to answer.
But I wanted to spend my brief time addressing the support you’re hearing for this bill. Much of this discussion is, always, about whether voter ID laws disproportionately affect certain voting groups – voters of color, older voters, rural voters, students, voters with disabilities, and so on.
Two things I’d like to say about that.
First, I believe that the experts on what affects Black voters in Nebraska are Black voters in Nebraska. I believe the experts on what impacts Nebraskans living with disabilities are Nebraskans living with disabilities. The experts on what affects older voters in Garden County are older voters in Garden County. I defer to them. I’d encourage this committee to do the same.
Second, as was made clear today, this discussion is so consistent and so prominent in voter ID debates that supporters have begun using “this bill isn’t racist” as an argument for why you should pass the bill.
Let’s just pretend, for a second, to grant that argument. Voter ID laws aren’t racist, poof. OK. I also don’t believe that voter ID laws will lead to the spread of coronavirus. I don’t believe that voter ID laws will threaten your second amendment rights. I don’t believe voter ID laws will lead to an increase in gas prices.
… None of those things make this a good bill. It just makes it not-terrible for those specific reasons. But this committee and this body doesn’t make laws just because they “aren’t terrible.” You pass laws because they’re good laws. And good laws have proven, strong answers to the five questions I asked earlier. LR3CA doesn’t. A massive voter study was conducted in 2019 concluded, and I’m quoting: “Voter ID laws have no effect on fraud, either actual or perceived.” Actual or perceived.
People who are worried about voter fraud feel just as worried about it after a voter ID law is passed.
Voter ID has somehow become exempt from the scrutiny we normally give to public policy questions, and I’d encourage you to ask these questions today.
Thank you for your time.