Secret ballot leadership votes could end in Nebraska Legislature

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Supporters of an effort to end secret ballot voting in the Nebraska Legislature are confident that they have the votes needed to pass a rule change in January’s session. 

“I believe that we have at least 28 state senators who support the effort,” said Rod Edwards, spokesman for the Nebraska First PAC. “It’s probably closer to 30, maybe 31.” 

Secret ballots have been used to elect committee leaders since Nebraska created the unicameral legislature in 1937. 

Edwards said making the votes public brings more transparency to the process, but opponents of this effort say secret ballots are crucial for bipartisanship.  

The organization Nonpartisan Nebraska said the rule change would harm the nonpartisan system that Nebraska has. 

“Political parties will be watching,” Executive Director Nathan Leach said, “the lobbyist will be watching, the governor will be watching, and they’re going to have a big interest in putting certain kinds of peoples into these posts.” 

Leach said Nebraskans don’t want the Legislature to be divided like Congress.  

“Because leadership is decentralized, lawmakers have to depend on building coalitions around issues and also building strong relationship with other members,” he said. 

Nebraska’s next legislative session will take place in January.

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