A skirmish over voter identification flared Thursday in the Nebraska Legislature, portending the battle that’s about to come. The Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee voted 6-2 to advance to the floor Legislative Resolution 1CA, which asks Nebraskans whether they want to put a photo ID requirement in the state constitution. If adopted by the full Legislature, ballot language on the constitutional amendment would appear before voters in November 2018. If voters approve the amendment it will be left to state lawmakers to pass legislation spelling out what constitutes an acceptable ID and whether the state will pay for IDs for those who cannot afford them.
Supporters say voter ID laws are needed to ward against voting fraud and to improve public confidence in the election process. Opponents argue the laws infringe upon a constitutional right or are part of a strategy by partisan Republicans to reduce the impact of poor and minority voters, who tend to support Democratic candidates.
A total of 32 states have laws in force that request or require some kind of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Only seven states have what are called strict photo ID laws.
The committee discussion leading up to Thursday’s vote generated some heat that fell along political lines. All six senators who voted to advance the resolution are Republicans, while the two who voted against are Democrats.