Two hot button election issues have returned to the Unicameral.
Sen. John Murante of Gretna will propose constitutional amendments to ask voters whether the state should require voter photo identification and whether the state should return to winner-take-all status in the presidential Electoral College.
The issues have run into roadblocks in the past, but an influx of 17 new legislators might make way for their passage, according to Murante.
“I certainly think that the Legislature has taken a more conservative turn. There’s no doubt about that,” Murante tells Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “And, I think people are going to be receptive to the arguments. This issue is not partisan. It’s about the state of Nebraska speaking with one voice and having as much weight in the presidential election as possible. And I think with the new members, we’re going to make a lot of headway.”
Critics argue quite the opposite.
They say that proportionality attracts attention Nebraska otherwise would not receive. They point to the 2008 presidential election when then-Sen. Barack Obama, a Democrat, spent consider time and money in the Second Congressional District, winning an electoral vote from a state that voted for Republican John McCain. It was the only time the state actually split its electoral votes. Democrat Hillary Clinton attempted to win the Second Congressional District, even making a campaign stop in Omaha, only to come up short.
Only Nebraska and Maine award electoral votes proportionally.
The Unicameral has resisted calls to require voters to display photo identification to cast a ballot. Murante wants to let the people decide the issue.
“My approach this year is to say we’re going to put before the people of Nebraska a simple question: should voters be required to show identification before they vote?” Murante says. “If the answer is yes, then the Legislature will become authorized to graft a bill to make that happen.”
Murante says the measures would improve confidence in the election process, which he says public opinion polls show is at an all-time low.