Stormy GOP infighting as voter ID debate off and running
With time running out before lawmakers head home until next year, debate on voter ID is off to a stormy start in the Nebraska Legislature.
Last November, voters overwhelmingly changed the state constitution to require a photo ID when casting a ballot, while at the same time leaving the potentially devilish details up to Nebraska’s 49 state senators.
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For years and years, the battle over voter ID has pitted Democrats against Republicans.
But now, after voters overwhelmingly approved those photo ID's last November, it’s two key Republicans at odds.
State Sen. Julie Slama, who led the statewide push, running head-on into the man in charge of Nebraska elections, Secretary of State Bob Evnen.
Evnen helped develop the plan now heading to lawmakers, in part based on his view that Nebraska elections are far and away on the up and up.
Secretary of State Bob Evnen: “The election processes in Nebraska are fair, they’re secure, they have a high degree of integrity.”
But Slama calls the plan newly wrapped in LB515 "fraud-friendly."
Months ago, Slama insisted vote fraud is out there and publicly pushed one example.
Sen. Slama: “Yes, voter fraud happens even here in Nebraska. In 2017 two Lexington men were convicted of voting multiple times in the 2016 elections."
That specific case involved these two men, who according to these court records were charged with “voting more than once.”
But during an investigation by News Channel Nebraska the men’s attorney said it was all a “simple misunderstanding” that when the men, who struggled with English, thought they were registering to vote they were actually voting so when they went to their polling place a few weeks later that vote was flagged.
And initially the men were charged with a class four felony…the possible punishment a maximum two years in prison and a $10,000 dollar fine. But in the end the two were convicted of a misdemeanor and fined $100 …no conviction for felony vote fraud.
And when asked by News Channel Nebraska if she stood by her claims of vote fraud Slama never responded.
Meanwhile Evnen continues to insist all is well.
Secretary of State Bob Evnen: “Nebraska voters can be confident that when they cast their ballot it’s going to be accurately counted and reported.”
Joe Jordan, NCN: “What steps did you take to ensure that?”
Evnen: “We expanded an audit, we hand-counted over 48,000 ballots. Out of those 48,000 plus ballots that were counted, we had variances in a total of 11 ballots.”
Jordan: “What do you say to the doubters. There are people out there who just aren’t going to believe you.”
Evnen: “The best I can do is put the facts out there.”
With the legislation needed sooner than later in order to give local election officials time to prepare for the 2024 primary and general election, if lawmakers don’t pass a new ID measure in these final days a special session is not out of the question this summer or fall.