There have been at least 10 unsuccessful attempts at overturning Nebraska’s unique system of awarding its Electoral College votes for president by congressional district. And, as a legislative filibuster against the latest attempt to return Nebraska to a winner-take-all system droned on Wednesday morning, it appeared more and more likely that 2014 would be the latest failed effort. “It’s ‘good night Irene’ for this bill. There will not be a vote on it,” said State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha. Chambers, a registered independent, has pledged an all-out filibuster against Legislative Bill 382, which has sparked a partisan political debate about how best to gain presidential campaign attention for a small state like Nebraska. The bill would have the state join the 48 states that award all electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gains the most votes statewide. Right now, Nebraska and Maine are the only states that award their electoral votes to the top vote-getter in each congressional district.
It’s been that way in Nebraska since 1991, though then-Gov. Ben Nelson, a Democrat, has twice vetoed Republican-backed bills, in 1995 and 1997, that would have returned the state to a winner-take-all system.
Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, a GOP candidate for governor, introduced the latest attempt to overturn the state’s unique system.
Janssen said dividing up the state’s electoral votes diminishes the state’s already small electoral clout, encourages gerrymandering of congressional districts along political party lines and hasn’t worked to drum up more interest in Nebraska from presidential candidates and campaigns.
“That claim hasn’t been realized in any great measure,” he said.