Voting rights info headed to Nebraska’s county jails

The right to vote is fundamental. We and our partners are dedicated to providing clarity and ensuring that justice-impacted individuals understand and can exercise their right to vote.

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Thousands of Nebraskans who are incarcerated in Nebraska’s county jails will have access to voting rights information this spring thanks to a partnership between the ACLU of Nebraska, Civic Nebraska, and RISE. Educational pamphlets produced by the organizations are arriving at county jails this week.
The mailed information helps Nebraskans understand whether they are eligible to vote in this May’s primary election and what steps they need to take to ensure they can cast a ballot, including how to comply with the state’s new voter identification requirement.
Partners say the goal is to address common questions and misconceptions.
ACLU of Nebraska Policy Fellow Jason Witmer made this statement on the educational effort
“Without a doubt, there are eligible voters in jail right now who do not know that they can vote,” Witmer said. “Jail time for a misdemeanor does not impact your voting rights, but we know there is plenty of confusion around that fact and it only gets more complicated when someone knows that they will be in jail on election day. Our goal is to make it easier for those Nebraskans and jail administrators alike. The key is that every eligible voter has a right to be heard through our elections and we hope that they all use that right this year.”
Civic Nebraska Director of Voting Rights Heather Engdahl made this statement on the educational effort:
“The right to vote is fundamental,” Engdahl said. “That’s why we and our partners are dedicated to providing clarity and ensuring that justice-impacted individuals understand and can exercise their right to vote.”
RISE Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Jasmine Harris made this statement on the educational effort:
“With the change in laws around election efforts, we want to ensure that we are a resource to people who are justice-involved,” Harris said. “Instead of waiting for people to contact us, we want to get the information to them and assist them in the process. We want to remove as many barriers as possible for people to access their ballot and exercise their right to vote.”
The mailed information addresses current voting laws and previews a quickly approaching change impacting Nebraskans with felony convictions. Currently, Nebraskans who have been convicted of a felony must wait two years to vote after completing the terms of their sentence, including any parole or probation. Thanks to the passage of LB20, which takes effect in mid-July, the two-year waiting period will soon be a thing of the past.
The ACLU of Nebraska, Civic Nebraska, and RISE are all part of the Nebraska Voting Rights Restoration Coalition, which is planning a boots-on-the-ground effort this fall to reach the estimated 7,000 Nebraskans who will be newly eligible to vote this November because of the recent change in the law. Details are available at the coalition’s website GetMyVoteBack.org.
The ACLU of Nebraska has sent voting rights information to county jails for each statewide election since 2020. Grant funding from ACLU National and the Nebraska Civic Engagement Table covered the costs of this spring’s mailing. Partners plan to send an updated version in October ahead of the November general election.
– Courtesy ACLU of Nebraska

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