OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As the state legislature began its special session to redraw Nebraska’s new voting districts, voting rights advocates are keeping a close eye on the process and encourage Nebraskans to do the same.
It’s a decision that will shape Nebraska elections for at least the next decade.
Danielle Conrad of ACLU Nebraska says avoiding data from political parties and incumbent research will be key in keeping the process fair to voters.
“Redistricting is not about candidates, and it's not about incumbents; it's about voters," Conrad said. "That’s what we have to center, that’s what we have to focus on, that’s what we have to get right”
Conrad says with data coming late, senators are working under a short deadline to find the best solution, something that will be a challenge without any changes to the schedule.
“They should be utilizing and still can utilize the powers that they have available to build in recess days," Conrad said. "To build in a more workable time frame.”
This speedy process could also keep Nebraska’s second house, the voters, from having a proper say of who they’ll be casting their votes with.
Gavin Geis with Common Cause Nebraska said already it seems voters are pushed to the sidelines of the process.
“Nebraskans have been short-changed," Geis said. "Maps were dropped in the past week, and now we have hearings. We worry there’s not enough time for the average Nebraskan to review to form an opinion and to participate."
A real concern with some of the proposed maps for Preston Love Jr., founder of Black Votes Matter, is that communities will be splitting their vote or it will be diluted.
“By surrounding it with unrelated voters that will in effect reduce the impact of the vote like in North Omaha," he said.
Three public hearings are scheduled for this week in Grand Island, Lincoln, and Omaha. Black Votes Matter will also be hosting its own meeting in north Omaha on Tuesday.
- September 14 at 1:30 p.m. -Grand Island, Central Community College, Room 555, Health Science Education Center,3134 W. Hwy 34
- September 14 at 6:00 p.m. - Omaha, Fabric Lab 2514 N. 24th St. with Black Votes Matter
- September 15 at 9:00 a.m. - Lincoln, Nebraska State Capitol, Room 1524,1445 K St.
- September 16 at 10 a.m. - Omaha, Scott Conference Center,6450 Pine St