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Nebraska lawmakers debate electoral voting divide

Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 4:26 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Just months after democrats touted the “blue dot” in Omaha a Republican lawmaker proposed changes to how Nebraska counts its electoral votes.

It’s a debate lawmakers have heard time and again, and there was plenty of opposition.

Thirty years ago, Nebraska lawmakers approved the plan we have now, allowing the state’s electoral votes to be separated based on the presidential results from each Congressional district. And repeatedly over the years, lawmakers have tried to change it.

In November — for only the second time in the history of presidential elections in Nebraska — the state split its electoral votes, and many celebrated the result. Four of the five votes may have gone to Trump, but Biden got one: It was referred to as the “blue dot” after the Democrat won the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

Every other state except for Maine is a winner-take-all, meaning whoever wins the popular vote gets all the state’s electoral votes.

State Sen. Julie Slama of Peru explained to the Nebraska Government Affairs Committee on Wednesday why she wants Nebraska to be a winner-take-all.

“Outcomes of presidential elections should never be determined by lines drawn by state-level politicians,” said Slama, who represents the state’s 1st District, located in southeast Nebraska.

But a number of people took issue with the bill, including Omaha sixth-grader Amelia Aspen.

“If we’re going to change it to winner-take-all, let’s not do it just now,” she said. “We just had a contentious election, to say the least. We don’t make to make a big transition now. We’ve split our votes for many years and have been totally OK with it.”

Preston Love Jr. of Omaha echoed that sentiment.

“Winner take all — what’s changed? It has worked well. What’s broken? What are you fixing?” he said.

The legislature twice voted in the ’90s to make Nebraska a winner-take-all state, but the governor vetoed it.

“The most truly fair way — regardless of race, religion — is that each voter has a say in every one of the votes,” Slama said.

Opponents of the change say it’s another way to suppress voters. Supporters say that if it’s good enough for 48 states, it should be fine for Nebraska.

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