Nobody would mistake Nebraska for a politically moderate state. It was the first state in the country to enact a 20-week abortion ban. They passed legislation restricting scientists’ ability to study climate change. Approximately 60 percent of voters cast a ballot for Mitt Romney in 2012, the ninth highest percentage of any state. So it was perhaps surprising when Gov. Dave Heineman (R) signed LB565 last week, a bill that enacts a form of same-day voter registration, one of the most progressive voting reforms in the country. The bill was passed by the nominally-nonpartisan-but-functionally-Republican unicameral legislature 37-3, with nine lawmakers abstaining. The new law allows citizens to register to vote at the polls during the early voting period and cast their ballot on the same day. Same-day registration will be available until the second Friday before Election Day.
Still, though the law certainly goes a long way in strengthening voting rights in the Cornhusker State, it’s not as strong as in some other states. “It’s same-day registration-lite,” Estelle Rogers, Legislative Director at Project Vote, told ThinkProgress, noting that people who cast their vote with this new option are essentially using a provisional ballot. That’s because the law requires election officials to verify a same-day registrants eligibility via a letter sent to the voter’s home address, rather than counting their ballots automatically. Assuming the letter does not return as undeliverable within 10 days of being mailed, the vote is counted.