State Sen. Charlie Janssen of Fremont, Neb., has found himself yet again in the middle of a passionate legislative battle. Last year, it was over an immigration bill, one of the most controversial of that legislative session. This time around, political conflict is brewing over his voter ID bill, a requirement that Nebraska voters present official identification, most often a photo ID such as a driver’s license, before they mark the ballot.
Janssen, a conservative, maintains that his bill is meant to ensure the integrity of elections and retain confidence in the system by preventing voter fraud, such as when someone pretends to be someone else to vote again. It’s modeled after an Indiana law that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.
Nonetheless, opponents charge the bill will disproportionately affect low-income, minority, elderly and student voters, placing another hurdle between those groups and their right to vote. The bill, LB 239, was introduced last session, along with similar laws in dozens of other states, but held over by committee until now. After several amendments were added, the bill is significantly “watered down,” Janssen said in an interview, but is also now constitutional. The legislature will likely consider the bill within two weeks.