Nebraska First State in 2015 to Move Voter ID – With a Twist

Nebraska_State_Capitol.jpeg

[Image courtesy of wikimedia]

Yesterday, I shared an article that listed 5 states likely to debate voter ID in 2015. A state that wasn’t on that list – Nebraska – is (I think) the first this year to actually move a bill in its legislature. Omaha.com has more:

Legislative Bill 111 would require most Nebraska voters to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification before casting a ballot …

[It] advanced on 7-1 votes from the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, which is dominated by conservative Republicans.

The bill is similar to ID bills debated in other states in that it requires a state-issued photo ID, with provisions for free ID for people without it, but it also includes a small twist:

Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, who introduced LB 111, said the bill aims to make voting more secure, while allowing options for people who do not have the required identification.

Under an amendment approved by the committee, anyone without the required identification could get a free state ID card.

Identification would not be required for people who vote early or by mail. People who show up at the polls without the required identification could still vote if they cast a provisional ballot or if they are “positively identified” by a poll worker.

Larson said the positive identification provision would cover cases in which poll workers know a voter personally or a voter presents a county-issued voter registration acknowledgment. [emphasis added]

This last piece – which would appear to allow county registration documents like a voter card to serve as “positive identification” for voting (and more importantly, forgo a provisional ballot) is a significant concession. It remains to be seen if that county-issued “acknowledgement” is difficult to obtain, but regardless it’s a new approach beyond efforts to put state ID in the hands of people who don’t have it.

Of course, the fact that the bill has moved out of committee doesn’t mean it will be enacted; Democrats in the Unicameral Legislature have successfully blocked bills like this in the past. Still, it’s yet another sign that the voter ID issue continues to find ways to surprise in 2015.

This will be a fierce fight in Lincoln … stay tuned.

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