LINCOLN–A legislative resolution proposed by Sen. Adam Morfeld of Lincoln stirred debate in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, as it conflicts with a similar resolution by the committee chairman, Sen. John Murante of Gretna.
The resolution, LR15CA, would amend the Nebraska Constitution to prohibit requiring that voters provide identification.
Murante’s resolution, LR1CA, is very similar. Instead of asking if voters want to amend the constitution to prohibit requiring an ID, LR1CA asks if voters want to amend it to require voter ID.
Morfeld’s resolution says requiring voter ID impedes the fundamental constitutional right to vote, while Murante’s says that requiring voter ID would help prevent voter fraud.
These resolutions, if passed, would go on the general ballot in the November 2018 election.
Murante asked Morfeld during the hearing if he would be willing to compromise.
“What if you and I were to agree right now, that we were to put both LR1CA and LR15CA on the ballot and see which one the people of Nebraska vote for?” Murante said.
Morfeld simply replied “No.”
The hearing then continued with several proponents agreeing with Morfeld that it is unconstitutional to hinder people from voting by imposing an ID requirement.
Omaid Zabih, staff attorney for Nebraska Appleseed’s Immigrants & Communities Program, said voter ID requirements hinder the elderly, disabled, college students and rural and low-income citizens. That is because it costs money to get an ID, and some people don’t have easy access to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Zabih also explained that voter impersonation is the rarest form of voter fraud and has not been documented in Nebraska.
“Policies that seek to impose a voter identification requirement into our voting system are solutions in search of a non-existent problem,” Zabih said.
Aside from Murante’s disagreement, there were no opponents at the hearing.
Bri McLarty Huppert, voting rights director at the nonprofit Nebraskans for Civic Reform, spoke in a neutral capacity. She said that her organization supports keeping voting easy as a constitutional right, but she said the current language in the Nebraska Constitution is clear enough already to prohibit a voter ID requirement.
Sen. Joni Craighead of Omaha asked Morfeld why this is so important, since things like buying alcohol, boarding a plane or getting prescriptions also require a photo ID. Morfeld responded that those aren’t constitutional rights, but voting is.