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NE bills would combine electoral votes and require voter ID; NE-02 would not be counted separately

Slama introduces controversial bills
Posted at 7:19 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 14:14:51-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — This past election, Nebraska’s Second Congressional District, which includes Omaha and most of the metro, gave their electoral college vote to Joe Biden. It was the first time it went blue since 2008.

Now one Republican state senator wants to change the system, giving all the state's votes to the statewide winner.

"I think that going back to the winner take all system gives all Nebraskans a say in how we distribute all five of our electoral college votes and is structurally a more sound system,” said State Sen. Julie Slama.

It led to President Donald Trump visiting Omaha just a week before the election.

State Senator Lou Ann Linehan said earlier in the week that she was split but is likely a yes vote.

“It's doubtful we would have gotten as much attention in the presidential race if we did not have that in place,” Linehan said. “So again, I could argue both sides of that, but I would support winner take all if it comes to the floor."

Other state senators like Ann Wishart said she will fight the bill.

Right now, just Nebraska and Maine split up their electoral college votes. Slama says in this case, being different isn't always the best option.

As for relevance, she says other than 2020 and 2008, the second district has gone red like the rest of the state.

"Only two times out of eight was in any way relevant, and we saw in both of those, it really wasn't relevant in the outcome as a whole,” Slama said.

Slama is also pushing a constitutional amendment that would require a photo ID in order to vote.

"Our current election laws, as they are, really limit our ability to tell what kind of fraud is going on, and if we can prevent this fraud on the front end, I think it is all the better for the state of Nebraska,” she said.

The bill, if passed, would need to pass by a vote of the people in the 2022 general election. A similar amendment didn't get out of committee last year.

Westin Miller, Director of Public Policy at Civic Nebraska, says there's no evidence of fraud, or that voter ID laws prevent fraud.

"It is just well documented that there will be negative impact, disproportionally on Black and brown voters. And in the case of Nebraska there's also a lot of evidence to suggest that voter ID laws are really cumbersome for older Nebraskans in rural parts of the state, which for us is a lot of people," Miller said.

Slama's plan would include the state giving free IDs out to those that don't have them. The secretary of state estimates that would cost about $50,000.

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