Proposed Voter ID Bill Meets Opposition

It's one of the most important rights we have in a democracy, the right to vote. To help protect that right, a Nebraska state senator wants to set up what he believes is a simple process, but opponents of a voter ID bill are already up in arms.

The bill's language is simple. Anyone who wants to vote must provide a state or government issued ID that shows a current address.

A group of community members, elected officials and representative from area organizations met Wednesday morning in Omaha. They said not only is the idea unnecessary, it would create a burden for anyone without an ID or who would need to update their old ID at a cost of $26.50.

"It unfairly targets citizens with low income, seniors, youth and citizens with disabilities," said Linda Duckworth with the League of Women Voters of Nebraska. "It points us in a direction that Nebraskans should be ashamed to take."

"Along with being a board member of the NAACP, I'm also a senior citizen, certainly I have a driver's license, but there are those who do not, which means that they will have to pay to get one, which is a cost issue," said Bobbie Davis.

The idea is hardly unique. It's been debated across the country, some calling it a form of "poll tax" since voters have to pay for a state issued ID card just to vote.

Nebraska Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont believes his bill gets around that issue. "There is no so-called poll tax if you will, it is constitutional, it has been held up in Indiana, but the way I've amended my bill, it's even more unobtrusive than the Indiana bill."

Regardless, this group says it's about bringing people to the polls, not scaring them away with unnecessary legislation.

Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps says while his office has taken no official position on the proposed bill, the way it is currently written would create an extra burden on his office during elections.

“There are processes that you have to do for contingency if they didn't have an ID to let them vote provisionally and then afterwards letting them come in 10 days afterwards and verifying if they do in fact have ID in order to allow that vote to be counted."

LB 239 is scheduled for debate next Wednesday. Nebraskans for Civil Reform will lobby in Lincoln the same day, busing in two groups from Omaha.


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