Omaha, Nebraska (AP) — Senator Mike Groene was dissatisfied when the Nebraska Parliament refused to vote seven times to force him to present government-issued ID. I wasn’t too surprised.
The problem is slam dunk in most conservative states, where the Republican majority ignores democratic opposition and passes more restrictive voting laws. But the GOP’s hub for eccentric and nonpartisan parliament, allowing more free legislators to derail bills that are widely supported by Republicans throughout the state and in all federal positions. That is not the case in Nebraska.
“This is how the system is set up,” said Groene, a conservative Republican who supports the voter ID law. “It’s not designed to address the major issues most states want.”
Currently, a campaign funded by the mother of a conservative governor aims to end the distinction of Nebraska as the only Republican state without voter ID law. Group citizens of voter ID have collected about 125,000 signatures needed to submit the issue to the 2022 general election ballot, and even opponents admit that the bill will probably pass.
This effort is the latest reflection of a polarized political situation that no longer allows major changes from the general Partisan agenda, regardless of local traditions or circumstances. Nebraska’s unique nonpartisan one-room legislative system is unlikely to change as it is part of the State Constitution, but politicians are increasingly willing to avoid it.
“I thought it was time to bring it to the people,” said Senator Julie Srama, a sponsor of the petition movement.
Slamah admitted that Nebraska has no history of fraudulent voting, but members of her rural conservative district wonder why the state hasn’t taken Republican legitimate action elsewhere. He said he was wondering.
“It makes us look bad,” said Doug Cagan, president of the conservative Nebraska Free Taxpayer, which promotes voter identity legislation. “Every year, more and more states are passing certain voter ID laws. Failure to pass is a kind of anomaly,” he said.
The campaign has already raised $ 377,000, all but $ 1,000 from Marlene Ricketts, the mother of Republican Governor Pete Ricketts and wife of billionaire conservative Joe Ricketts. Thing.
Opponents argue that the purpose of voter IDs is not to secure safe elections, but to discourage voting by minorities and others who tend to vote for Democratic candidates. increase. However, they acknowledge that Nebraska is likely to remain a solid Republican, with or without a voter ID. Nebraska was 88% white and supported Donald Trump in the 2020 general election, 19 points ahead of Democrat Joe Biden.
Nevertheless, following the party line here is probably not easy. Since 1937, the Nebraska State Senate, unlike all other states, is made up of one parliament, with well-known political party affiliations, but officially nonpartisan members. There is no formal caucuses where the leader teaches members how to vote. The Democratic Party may be elected chairman of the committee, even though there are only 17 of the 49 seats.
The long-standing rule also requires two-thirds of the votes to overcome filibuster. This means that supporters of the bill need at least 33 members. This is one more seat than the Republican Party holds.
These rules helped Democrats defeat numerous bills over the years, including charter school proposals, efforts to end state practices to split the presidential vote, and, of course, voter IDs. ..
It leaves Republicans annoyed, but over the years, few have tried to change the system. Some lawmakers also believe that the system encourages cooperation and limits firefighters who want to overthrow their enemies.
Omaha’s Republican Senator John McCollister voted against the voter identification bill and other bills upheld by his party and was strongly criticized by GOP officials outside Congress, but so by his colleagues. It wasn’t.
“I think most of us are more free to become independent than states with caucuses,” said McAllister. “
But long-time Republican activist, former member of the House of Representatives and mayor of Omaha, Hal Daub, said ballot measures could be further promoted as other party issues get stuck in parliament. Over the past decade, a petition campaign has allowed Nebraska voters to revive the death penalty, expand Medicaid, regulate payday lenders, legalize casino gambling, and raise the minimum wage.
“This is a structural issue that enforces many of these initiatives,” said Daub, who donated $ 1,000 to the Voter ID campaign.
Follow Grant Schulte on Twitter. https://twitter.com/GrantSchulte