Nebraska took a first step Thursday toward reducing the number of days for in-person early voting in order to prevent situations like the one in which a blind Lincoln woman couldn’t cast an early ballot because the machine to help disabled voters was not ready. Lawmakers gave 31-0 first-round approval to a bill (LB271) by Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha that would cut the number of early-voting days from 35 to 30. The bill originally would have reduced the number of days to 25, but the 30-day period was reached in a compromise with opponents, who worried about restricting voter access. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have early voting, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State. The average time for in-person early voting is 22 days, compared to Nebraska’s 35, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Only five states have longer in-person early voting periods. Nebraska voters can request a mail-in ballot 120 days before an election.
Lautenbaugh reluctantly accepted the compromise in order to end a filibuster against the original measure. He said Nebraska could be sued by a voter who is denied access to cast an early vote in person. “We’ll … hope that it works. And if it doesn’t … you’ll be dealing with it again — maybe paying the claims if we are sued,” he said.
Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, who was helping filibuster the original measure, said “a compromise is when neither side is pleased.”