A bill that would have required Nebraska voters to show government identification at the polls was squashed Wednesday by a legislative filibuster, but the senator who introduced the measure said he’ll likely introduce it again next year. Lawmakers who backed the bill fell three votes short of the support they needed to stop debate on the measure. As a result, the matter is essentially dead for this legislative session. The vote to end the eight-hour debate was 30-16. Bill supporters needed 33 votes. The divide in the officially nonpartisan Legislature fell mostly along party lines. “That was unfortunate,” said the measure’s sponsor, Fremont Sen. Charlie Janssen, who wants to bring the bill back next year. “It wasn’t put forward as a partisan issue. It was never intended to be a partisan issue, but in the end I think that’s what happened. I think people closed their ears and didn’t want to compromise, which was evident when we were trying to reach out to them.”
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.