We’ve got some great news to share. This week, LB158, Sen. Justin Wayne’s bill to restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated Nebraskans, has advanced from the Nebraska Legislature’s Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee by an impressive 6-1 vote:
AYE: 6 (Sens. Brewer, Halloran, M. Hansen, Hunt, McCollister, Sanders)
NAY: 1 (Sen. Lowe)
Simply put, this is incredible. Seeing a bipartisan effort to support voting rights reforms is a breath of fresh air. The last time a bill like this was voted out of committee was in 2017 – that same year, it gained full approval of the Legislature. Gov. Pete Ricketts then vetoed the bill; it fell just short of the 30 votes required to override that veto.
It’s well past time to get rid of this archaic law, which imposes an arbitrary, additional two-year waiting period for returning Nebraskans – even after they have fully paid their debt to society. The practice is rooted in an undeniably racist history that continues to have negative impacts on everyone, with a disproportionate effect on Black and brown voters. Learn more here.
There is no meaningful policy justification for felony disenfranchisement. Removing barriers to the right to vote helps our returning citizens feel like a part of their community and lowers recidivism rates. This is particularly profound right now as Nebraska experiences a state of emergency because of overcrowding in our correctional facilities.
Here’s what we all need to do right now. Let’s focus on continuing the momentum all the way to the governor’s desk. Sign up via OutreachCircle to get involved in the effort to get LB158 across the finish line. And, please, join us in sending our sincere thanks to the senators on the government committee who voted to advance the bill – and who have sided on the right side of history.
Let’s do this!
Director of Voting Rights