A measure to implement automatic voter registration in Nebraska faced opposition Thursday from the state’s chief election official and head of the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles. Allowing automatic voter registration would flood the voter registration system with people who are ineligible or already registered, said Colleen Byelick, general counsel and chief deputy for the Secretary of State’s Office. DMV Director Rhonda Lahm argued that not everyone who qualifies for a driver’s license or state ID card is eligible to vote, including people under 18 and those who are not U.S. citizens.
Of the roughly 500,000 driver’s licenses and state ID cards processed each year, about 100,000 applicants indicate they’d like to register to vote, too.
“We’re talking about 400,000 (additional) records flowing into our voter registration system,” said Byelick, who testified against the bill on behalf of Secretary of State John Gale.
State Sen. Tony Vargas of Omaha said his bill would modernize elections and make them more accessible. Current state law allows people to register to vote through the DMV, but they must opt in.