Election 2022 explainer: Nebraska’s Voter ID initiative

Besides deciding the winning and losing candidates, Nebraskans will also be voting on special issues.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 6:33 PM CDT
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MERRICK COUNTY, Neb. (WOWT) - Nebraska voters are mulling an initiative that would require a valid ID in order to cast a ballot.

6 News took a closer look at Initiative 432. Many worry about what it will do to the growing number of Nebraskans who cast a ballot through the mail.

In Merrick County, located two hours west of Omaha, every voter there gets a ballot through the mail for every election — Nebraska law allows counties with fewer than 10,000 voters to do it this way.

Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, 67 qualify, and 11 take part.

Voter turnout blows away the traditional voting method at the ballot box: In 2018, 75% of the voters here voted.

But if the voter ID requirement initiative passes, it’s up to state lawmakers to create the rules.

In-depth 6 News dive into initiative 432 on the November ballot.

“In some states, such as Georgia, you must make a photocopy of your ID before you submit your absentee ballot,” said Steve Smith with Civic Nebraska. “In states around us, for example, you may need your driver’s license — which is your voter ID number, along with a pin number that’s on the back of your voter registration card.”

Even if you discount the 2020 election because of the pandemic, a record-number of Nebraskans requested early ballots this year: 229,000.

State Sen. Julie Slama, a key proponent of the voter ID constitutional amendment, says that if approved in November, the Legislature will have several options on how to implement it based on examples set by other states.

WHAT THE CANDIDATES SAY

6 News wanted to know where the major candidates for Nebraska governor stand on voter ID:

Democrat Carol Blood of Bellevue said she believes we “shouldn’t create hurdles that make it harder” to vote. She said studies show a “substantial decline in voter turnout” when laws like this pass.

“Why are we trying to go backwards?” she said.

6 News checked Sarpy County voting records from the past decade. They showed that Blood has voted a total of 13 times — 12 of them were mail-in or absentee ballots.

“I’m a big believer we ought to have voter ID,” said Jim Pillen, Republican candidate for governor. “We have 11 counties that do mail-in ballots exclusively. I don’t support that.”

Pillen has voted by mail-in or absentee, though. 6 News checked Platte County election records, which revealed that while he usually votes at the poll, Pillen has voted absentee twice in Columbus: once in 2014 and again during the pandemic in November 2020.

“As we’ve gone to make things more convenient — it’s a privilege to vote,” he said. “We shouldn’t be voting at my leisure and convenience.”

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