Civic Nebraska @ the Statehouse: 2023 in review

Thanks to all of you who called, emailed, testified, and donated in support of Nebraskans' voting rights this session.

We’ve wrapped up the 2023 legislative session, and it was a doozy. The rejection of legislative norms, the introduction of contentious legislation, and a session-long filibuster together created the most combative session in recent legislative memory.
Fortunately, important progress was made for voting rights despite these setbacks. Civic Nebraska met recently with State Sen. Jane Raybould of the Government Committee and Gavin Geis of Common Cause Nebraska to discuss election-related highlights from the session. Watch a recording of the event here.
In summary:
Civic Nebraska and other pro-democracy organizations did all we could to ensure that legislation to implement voter ID rejected various attempts to create unnecessary barriers for voters or shut voters out of elections. The final bill accommodates voters in a variety of ways, making it the “least bad option” of potential voter ID bills. Passed 38-1, the bill:
  • accepts a broad list of IDs, including expired IDs, student IDs, and hospital and assisted living facility records;
  • provides free state IDs needed for voting purposes;
  • requires absentee voters to provide their driver’s license or state ID number on their ballot request;
  • authorizes voters to vote provisionally if they have a disability, illness, religious objection to being photographed, or lack of a birth certificate needed to acquire an ID; and
  • funds a statewide awareness campaign to inform voters about this new process.
Legislation to immediately restore voting rights to Nebraskans who have served felony sentences advanced out of committee on a bipartisan 6-2 vote and remains on General File. We’ll build on this progress over the interim by educating senators about the need to remove this arbitrary two-year waiting period before Nebraskans regain their constitutional right to vote.
Finally, a bill requiring the Legislature to provide a public digital video archive of legislative hearings and floor debate passed 48-0. We’ll share more as we learn when this resource becomes available.
We’re grateful for the diligent work this session by the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. In a session that saw some committees turn testifiers away as hearings stretched into late nights, Sen. Brewer’s committee honored its responsibility and allowed time to hear the input of every testifier. This is how government should be.
And many thanks to all of you who called, emailed, testified, and donated in support of Nebraskans’ voting rights this session. Your vigilance helped us guard against legislation that would have eroded access to elections and turned voters away from the polls. Stay tuned as we determine how best to build upon that progress next year. 
Thanks for all that you do,
Heidi Uhing
Director of Public Policy

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