Nebraska ‘elections cleanup’ bill won’t ‘shake up’ voting system, supporters say
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Nebraska Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee spent the last five months coming up with a bill that supporters say will clean up elections.
“I was concerned about election integrity and security of the elections, and I have been working on other ways to make sure all of Nebraska’s votes all count, and one person one vote, and that’s why I wanted to bring this bill,” Sen. Robert Clements.
Every year, an election bill is drawn up to keep voting laws in Nebraska up to date.
“Some years, it’s a major change; other years it’s more just minor adjustments — things that have been overlooked and need to be changed,” Sen. Tom Brewer said. “This is the first year since the pandemic, so we had some lessons learned from that that had to make for major changes.”
One of the biggest changes the pandemic caused for voting was a big increase in the number of mail-in ballots, prompting questions about how they should be handled.
Part of the bill would deal with securing ballot drop boxes across the state.
“There were ballot drop boxes that were not well-supervised or secured, and so the bill required that the ballot drop box be bolted down and it be locked with only one key given to the election commissioner,” Clements said. “Then it’s supposed to be opened and emptied before balloting starts, and every day they have to open it and empty it out, every day. Then the location of every drop box must be reported to the secretary of state so that they know where they all are. We wanted to secure the elections in Nebraska, and I think that it is an improvement to make sure that they are more secure.”
Sen. Rita Sanders wants to make sure elections are accessible to all by requiring each candidate add closed captioning or provide a transcript for TV and radio ads.
“We have taken a different way of addressing those who are handicapped, and so Sen. Sanders’ bill is focused totally on the deaf and hard of hearing, and so that is going to be a nice addition,” Brewer said. “Sometimes we think too big, and we forget about smaller slices of our society that needs to have the same privileges, and this is what this bill does.”
A vote is now expected on Monday.
If it passes, it will likely take effect after the May primary but before the November general election.
“It’s a cleanup bill, an elections cleanup bill where we take a lot of the small things that have been identified that have slowed the process in being able to vote or have limitations that shouldn’t be there,” Brewer said. “This bill doesn’t shake up or change the overall system at all, but it fixes a lot of the small things that have been a problem.”
He said the committee’s proposal is a combination of seven different bills.
“So that’s something that’s different than most bills,” Brewer said. “Most of the time, you will have a bill with a single purpose, but this one is encompassing everything with elections.”
Brewer does not think there will be pushback from this bill, unless amendments get added onto it.
It needs to be voted on two more times before the session ends.