League of Women Voters works to keep Nebraskans informed
“Hundreds of volunteer hours” leading up to special session
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - How Nebraskans are represented in Washington and how each person across the state is represented in Lincoln over the next decade is the purpose of redistricting. And leading up to a special session called by Nebraska lawmakers, the League of Women Voters was busy reaching out to citizens and politicians alike.
“We’re all about civil discourse,” said League of Women Voters Omaha co-president Linda Duckworth. “Make some good decisions, pass some great laws and do it in the most civil way you can.”
“We have a track record that we try to educate, we’re non-partisan, we don’t support parties, we don’t support candidates,” said League of Women Voters Nebraska co-president MaryLee Moulton. “So we really work in issues, like redistricting.”
“What we were really looking for was a kind of give and take where our non-partisan legislature came together,” Moulton continued. “No one was a winner in this, and that’s probably good, because everybody had to give up something. That’s how you make the sausage and that’s how you get legislation passed.”
In this special session, one big sticking point came over Douglas County, and whether or not to split the area including Omaha into separate districts.
“We’re pleased that Douglas County was left in tact,” Duckworth said. “We are also very pleased the lawmakers came together and got this done during the special sessions set up for this and that its not something they would have to pick up down the road in January because we all know there’s plenty of work to be done in the session that’s coming up.”
State government redistricting compromises came at a price for some western districts, but the give and take is what the League tries to facilitate so things can get done.
“The redistricting we have now is going to make up the maps we live for the next ten years,” Moulton said. “The population in Nebraska has moved east, and that’s something that obviously the representatives from western Nebraska were uncomfortable with. They didn’t want to give up representation and it really look a bit of negotiation to come up with a plan that would work for them.”
She went on to say while the new districting may have leaned towards the east, she sees compromise that will swing some funding and resources to the west in future legislation.
“As Nebraskans we all need to be cognizant of the especial needs of Nebraska,” Moulton said. “Perhaps (there will) be some legislation to maybe give the western senators who have these large areas some additional staff to help them, and hopefully some real investment to grow western Nebraska. That’s in all of our interest, that business expands there, population expands there, because we want Nebraska to grow over all.”
She also says the state’s unicameral government is uniquely successful, working to knock down some partisan walls that exist in other states.
“I don’t think its ever truly non-partisan, but if you have an aspiration to be non-partisan, at least it makes a big difference,” she said. “It allows people to talk to one another. For us, we are an all volunteer organization, and we’ve been engaged in this for the long haul. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been really intricately involved putting in literally hundreds of hours with all these volunteers to make sure Nebraskans knew what was going on.”
“I think that helps make the state more non-partisan because to get more people involved,” she continued, pointing out the positive results of those volunteer efforts. “I think the broader your group the broader the canvas of voters who were involved in this kind of process, I think the better chance you have of having more non-partisanship in it.”
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