Legislative Blog: Election Technology and Investment in Modernization

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In the last two weeks the Government, Military, and Veterans Affairs Committee has heard one election bill after another. Kicking off with a constitutional amendment to require a photo ID to vote on March 2nd, hearing three modernization bills last Thursday, and ending with a serious look at the future funding and structure of our election systems.

After its creation last session, the Election Technology Select Committee spent 2016 soliciting feedback from county election officials, election system vendors, and advocacy organizations on how the current system functions and what the future should hold.

The Committee report identified the need for funding to replace equipment.

The state and county election officials want all-mail elections to reduce the amount that needs to be replaced and reduce the cost to counties.

Civic Nebraska wants the money to be invested in modernization.

Senator Murante introduced a bill to create an Election Technology Fund and allow for electronic poll books. He also wants voter ID.

We all want something and the Legislature is going to spend money on elections one way or another. So the lingering question is, in light of the budget deficit, “what is a good investment for the taxpayer?”

We would argue modernization.

Why AVRBefore we can even debate the merits of a precinct-based election system versus conducting elections by mail, we need to ensure the infrastructure is there to conduct elections. At the December hearing county election officials lamented being unable to run the reports they need with the current voter registration software. The Secretary of State reports there are about 100,000 voters with “in NVRA” status (This means the county has notice that the voter may have moved). Whether the voter shows up at the polls or requests a mail ballot, we need the voter rolls to be accurate and up-to-date. Investing in new software and Automatic Voter Registration is the solution.

LB 290 (as amended through AM 522) increases the amount of data that can be shared by the DMV with county election officials by switching Motor Voter from an opt-in to an opt-out. This makes it easier for the county to update the voter rolls with the added benefit of making it easier for the voter to update their registration. Read more about Automatic Voter Registration and take action to support this common sense legislation.

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