Nebraska Legislature

LINCOLN–After the highly contested 2020 presidential election, some Nebraska state senators want to change how people vote. Two bills are scheduled for hearings that will make such changes.

In January, Sen. Julie Slama of Peru introduced LB76, a bill that would change the state’s current voting system. Nebraska is one of two states that splits its electoral college votes, a change from the winner-take-all system used by nearly every other state. Nebraskans chose to split the vote in 1991. Slama’s bill would revert the state to its prior way of voting. Her second voting rights bill is LR3CA, which would require voters to provide identification at the ballot box.

Nebraska split its electoral college votes between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates in 2008 and 2020. If it passes, Democrats would likely have a hard time winning electoral votes in the state. The last time a Democrat won the entire state of Nebraska was in 1964.

Slama said one of her goals with this bill is to fight gerrymandering, the purposeful redistricting of areas of the state to favor a political party or class over another.

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Sen. Julie Slama

In a unicameral update about the bill, Slama said that results from presidential elections should not be based on district lines, which are determined by politicians at the state level.

The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee has yet to vote on LB76. During the hearing Feb. 18, committee members heard testimony from both sides. 

Nebraska Republican Party Executive Director Ryan Hamilton spoke in favor of the bill. He said that the current system favors the Omaha district by giving them an entire electoral vote, whereas the Lincoln area and the rest of the state share two votes. 

One opponent of the bill is Civic Nebraska, a nonpartisan organization that focuses on voting rights, civic health programs, and youth civic leadership. The organization posted on Twitter during the most recent hearing on Feb. 17 and also sent their Director of Public Policy, Westin Miller, to testify.

Civic Nebraska said the winner of the popular vote should win the election. While they are not fans of the electoral college, they believe that splitting the vote gives a better representation to all people across the state, regardless of political party.

Along with LB76, Slam introduced an amendment that would affect voting in Nebraska. 

She proposed LR3CA, which will require voters to provide a valid form of identification at the ballot box. If it passes, Nebraskans would be able to vote on the issue during the 2022 election. So far, five other senators have added their names to the bill. 

“The proposal would enhance election integrity and increase voter confidence,” Slama said

Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen supports the proposal and called it  “common sense.” 

Preston Love, Jr. of Black Votes Matter opposed the amendment, saying that requiring an ID would make it more difficult for the elderly and non-white people to vote.

Senior journalism major, mostly covering local politics and legislature