A measure that would require Nebraska voters to show government-issued identification at the polls drew fierce criticism Tuesday from opponents in the Legislature, with one lawmaker calling it a “Jim Crow light” bill. Lawmakers argued over the measure into the evening, but were not expected to reach a vote until Wednesday. The bill’s sponsor, Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, told lawmakers that his bill seeks to fight the threat of voter fraud. Critics say the problem doesn’t exist and have mounted a filibuster on the bill to delay a vote. Janssen, a former U.S. Navy rescue swimmer, said he cast his first ballot as an absentee voter from a combat zone in the Persian Gulf. “I took great pride in casting that ballot, and I’d hate to think it was canceled out by somebody voting illegally,” he said. Opponents say the bill disproportionately affects poor and young voters. Between 50,000 and 100,000 Nebraskans do not have identification that would qualify as valid for voting purposes, according to the group Nebraskans for Civic Reform.
Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook likened the measure to old, southern Jim Crow laws designed to keep blacks and poor whites from voting. Cook, who is black and whose parents grew up in the South, said bill supporters were “extremely ignorant of the history of the United States. You’re forgetting your history — your American history,” she said. “This is Jim Crow light. Don’t try to say that it’s anything else, especially not to me.”
… Sen. Steve Lathrop, an attorney from Omaha, said the bill would not likely survive a court challenge if passed. Lathrop, chairman of the Legislature’s Business and Labor Committee, said the state pays $275,000 in attorney fees for every constitutional challenge it loses. “We are putting a hindrance, an impediment, on someone’s right to vote,” he said. “We are making someone do something before they can vote. We are violating our own constitution, and it isn’t going to sit there unattacked.”
Full Article: Lawmakers tangle over Nebraska voter ID proposal.