Gavin’s Story: The Hidden Harm of Voter ID
Voter ID laws deprive many voters of their right to vote. Many Nebraskans would not have one of the forms of ID required to vote – voters who are often lower in income, racial and ethnic minorities, senior citizens, and, like Gavin, Nebraskans with disabilities.
Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t exist. Experiences in other states show that requiring photo ID, even if the state provides the ID, disenfranchises voters.
LR3CA, introduced in 2021, is the latest in a series of attempts over the past decade to institute harmful voter ID measures on the state’s voters. This proposed Constitutional amendment would write voter disenfranchisement into the Nebraska Constitution. It is a costly proposal that would require an untold amount of taxpayer dollars to address a problem that doesn’t exist. There is zero evidence of voter fraud in Nebraska.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution allows state legislatures to apply to attend a convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. Once two-thirds of the states have submitted an application, Congress is authorized to convene such a convention. This convention will have the authority to propose amendments to the constitution that then must be ratified by three-fourths of states, either by their state legislatures or by an individual state convention.
Allowing Congress or the states to so easily repeal federal law and regulation is bad policy. “Fiscal restraint” proposals by a Convention of States could devastate the Nebraska economy. The 2016 Convention of States simulation proved that even the most limited convention of states that stays neatly within its proposed boundaries could not only devastate the Nebraska state budget, but also weaken crucial federal protections of our voting rights by subjecting federal law to the will of 24 percent of the population, or to a slight majority in one chamber of Congress. It is for these reasons we cannot support Nebraska’s petition to join an Article V Convention of States.
In Nebraska, a person who is convicted of a felony loses the right to vote for the duration of their sentence. Once that person has completed their sentence – including parole – they must then wait an additional two years before their right to vote is restored. Punishing people by restricting their right to vote for a period beyond their sentence is archaic, excessive, and completely unjustified.
There is no meaningful policy justification for felony disenfranchisement. It is a policy with an undeniably nefarious and racist history that continues to have negative impacts on everyone, with a disproportionate effect on Black and Brown voters. Civic Nebraska strongly supports eliminating the additional two-year waiting period.
As the record-setting 2020 elections showed, vote-by-mail is a safe, easy, and convenient way to cast a ballot. Civic Nebraska supports the expansion of vote-by-mail in the state by allowing all Nebraska counties, regardless of size and beyond only those under 10,000 in population, to request conducting elections by an all-vote-by-mail standard. We also support improving absentee voting by allowing voters to request their ballots online, and including pre-paid postage on all early absentee ballot return envelopes.
Vote-by-mail is proven to drive voter participation, give voters time to research candidates and issues, and increase access to the ballot.
Automatic Voter Registration, or AVR, flips the program from an opt-in structure where the voter has the option to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles to an opt-out structure, where the data already collected by the state agency is used to register or update the registration of a voter unless the voter affirmatively declines, or opts out, of the registration. Potential cost savings exist through the processing of electronic applications instead of paper and a constant stream of data updating voter registrations. Under AVR, those renewals and updates will be automatically shared with election officials and helped them maintain accurate lists. This small common-sense update to our registration process ensures that only eligible US citizens are able to cast votes, therefore strengthening the security of our voting systems.
Voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. Every 10 years, politicians redraw legislative maps; our current process allows politicians to draw their own maps however they want. By packing as many opposition party voters as possible into a district, or by spreading them out too thinly to make a difference, politicians can effectively erase voters not suitable to their own goals. Meanwhile, they effectively guarantee their own re-election. This process invites corruption and provides no way for voters to hold their elected officials accountable.
Civic Nebraska supports legislation to improve our redistricting process. This legislation increases transparency, protects the integrity of our elections, and makes it harder for politicians to hand-pick their voters.
Civic Nebraska supports a national popular vote for president. The Electoral College was among the founding pacts that got the U.S. Constitution ratified. But just because a system was implemented a long time ago doesn’t mean it’s a good idea today. Civic Nebraska opposes allocating Electoral College votes as winner-take-all because we believe the person who receives the most votes should be elected. Our current system is not ideal. However, instituting a winner-take-all standard takes us even further from that goal.
Election Protection Reports
Note: Because of ongoing concern over the COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020, Civic Nebraska did not deploy Election Protectors on Election Day.