The Legislative Process and Online Voter Registration: An NCR Legal Clerk’s Perspective

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By Kane Ramsey, Legal Clerk

This last week I was assigned to help research online voter registration (LB 661) in Nebraska. Senator Bob Krist introduced LB 661 on behalf of the Secretary of State’s office. The Statement of Intent laid out the reasons for LB 661 and the purposes for which this bill was aimed to address. Specifically, within the Statement of Intent it is found “LB 661 consists of three components to provide additional opportunities for citizens of Nebraska to register and vote while increasing the accuracy and enhancing the maintenance of the voter registration database.”

Furthermore, LB 661 “will provide more convenience to Nebraska citizens by allowing them to complete the registration process via a website and will reduce data entry occurrences and result in fewer data entry errors.”

One of the most interesting aspects of researching online voter registration was seeing the benefits to those states that had already incorporated online voter registration into their respective election processes. This included the ability to utilize technology to be more cost-efficient, make more accurate and secure voter registration rolls, and to utilize the flexibility of technology to meet the needs of the state.

While writing this memo I knew that LB 661 would be going onto the floor of the Unicameral. This made the project that much more exciting. However, the best part was being able to go to the Capitol with Adam Morfeld, NCR’s executive director, and Bri McLarty, NCR’s senior legal clerk, and watch how they interacted with the state senators.

Building up to LB 661, Adam and Bri spoke with a number of senators to give them a brief of LB 661 and the attached measures. Because of this, I was able to meet senators and to see how floor debate and voting processes were handled here in Nebraska.

This was the first time – since I would guess we came to Lincoln in elementary school – that I saw the legislative process first hand. Being down in the Capitol rotunda during the lobbying process and witnessing first hand the pace and intensity of the atmosphere was exhilarating. The morning ended with the state senators voting unanimously to advance LB 661 from General File.  Two more votes are required but they are more technical in nature.

It was exciting to be a part of this project – all though my time spent pales in comparison to the amount of time and work supporters of online voter registration have committed in the past 8 years or so – and I am excited to see the benefits as Nebraska incorporates online voter registration.

NOTE: NCR hires legal clerks year round, and works hard to involve legal clerks directly in the research, policy making, and direct service aspects of what we do. If you are interested in clerking with NCR, please contact Adam Morfeld at adam.morfeld@nereform.org.

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