Questions from Attorney General’s Office May Force Amendments to Nebraska Voter ID Bill


LINCOLN — A second ballot scheduled for Wednesday on the voter ID bill favored by the Nebraska Legislature was postponed after last-minute questions from the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office.

On Monday, May 22, 2023, State Senator Julie Surama of Dunbar and State Senator Tom Brewer, chairman of the Nebraska State Legislative Committee on Government and Military Affairs, will debate the voter ID bill. (Aaron Thunderford/Nebraska State Attorney)

In legislation 514, the attorney general’s office asked for narrower exceptions to those who claim they were unable to obtain a state-approved ID card in time for the vote, according to people familiar with the debate.

State Senator Tom Brewer, who chairs Congress’ Government-Military Committee, said his staff is working with the Office of the Attorney General to draft the amendment.

They are “trying to get the wording right,” he said, as this could be the last chance to make any changes. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Mike Hilgers had no immediate comment. His office has been participating in the commission’s voter ID negotiations for several months.

The problem is that LB 514 is facing a filibuster from Dunbar Senator Julie Surama, who said she prefers a “more conservative vision” of voter ID.she criticized same exception on the LB514.

There is no guarantee that the amendments being drafted by brewery staff will be voted on the floor before time runs out. Slama has filed a series of amendments and allegations regarding his LB 514.

“We’re going to work hard to get there,” Brewer said. “If that seems to improve the bill, that’s our hope.”

Sulama said on Wednesday that he had not yet been consulted on a possible fix, nor had he participated in discussions about the need for a fix.

“I wanted to participate,” she said. “I told him what he could do to improve the bill.”

Nebraska Attorney General Mike Hilgarth (Provided by Nebraska Attorney General’s Office)

Surama hopes to reduce exceptions for those who cannot present their ID to vote. He also dislikes the bill’s provision that allows early voters to write down their ID number, which elections officials check against a state database of state-approved photo IDs.

Her approach requires a witness or notary to sign early voter ballot envelopes and certify that they have seen photo identification.

In addition, Surama hopes to add a layer of citizenship checks to voters on top of the state’s current checks when voters register to vote.

Voting advocates argue that the undocumented exemption in the Commission’s amendment seeks to comply with federal election law and federal election case law. They questioned the legitimacy of Surama’s narrower proposals.

Brewer expects the bill to be put back on the floor for a second round of deliberations on Tuesday. If Surama keeps his filibuster, that round of debate could last four hours.

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