~A vastly scaled-back voter ID proposal still drew a lot of opposition at a legislative hearing Thursday.
In recent years, proposals to require photo identification before allowing people to vote have run into strong opposition that prevented their being enacted in Nebraska.
This year, Omaha Sen. Bob Krist has proposed a much more limited bill, on behalf of Secretary of State John Gale. It would require only a limited number of voters to produce photo IDs. Those would be voters for whom election officials had received information, such as from the post office, that they no longer lived at the same address, and who had not responded to a letter asking them to confirm their status.
Gale said that information is publically available, and could be used to send people to the polls to vote in place of people who had actually moved. He estimated that only about 1,000 people per election would be affected by the new requirement, and said requiring photo ID in such cases would not be discriminatory.
“This has nothing to do with economic status, minority status, disability status as a result of financial consequences burdens imposed by a voter ID bill. This has to do with a system initiated by those very people who have to be responsible for their actions, who say ‘I’ve moved permanently and I refuse to confirm my move,’ and so they disappear.
The proposal was opposed by many of the same people who have opposed broader voter ID requirements on the basis that they discriminate against members of groups that are less likely to have photo IDs: the elderly, minorities, and poor people, who are less likely to have drivers licenses, for example.
Adam Morfeld of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, a group that says it includes politically diverse young professionals, also questioned the impact on young people, noting that photo ID requirement would be triggered by not responding to a mailed request for verification. He said mail is increasingly less important, particularly to young people.
“I took a quick straw poll of some of my friends under the age of 30, and over half of them don’t even receive paper bills any more. None of them receive letters from their family members via mail. Mom will either text, Facebook chat or call if they need to get ahold of them. Many noted they rarely even look closely at their mail because most of it is junk and they don’t expect to get anything important at all,” Morfeld said.
The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee took no immediate action on the bill.
After five hours of debate stretching over three days, senators did finally advance a bill on the sale of novelty cigarette lighters designed to look like toys. Under an amendment offered by Sen. Ken Schilz of Ogallala, stores could still sell the lighters, but only if they were equipped with safety devices to prevent children from being able to use them.