Efforts to require Nebraska voters to show identification at the polls came to an abrupt halt Wednesday, less than 24 hours after lawmakers began what many expected to be a long, heated debate. Lawmakers voted 25-15 to push the measure to the bottom of the 2015 agenda, meaning it has little chance of returning this year. The move came after numerous amendments were added to the bill, which has faced heavy resistance from lawmakers and civil rights activists who say it would disenfranchise poor and minority voters. Opponents also note that Nebraska has no documented cases of voter fraud. Sen. John Murante of Gretna, one of the bill’s supporters and chairman of the government committee, asked his fellow senators not to “prolong the pain” by sending it back to the committee for reconsideration. The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, said the measure was intended to protect the state from voter fraud and included safeguards, such as offering free IDs to poor residents, to prevent disenfranchising voters. But opponents noted that ID cards were costly and didn’t fully protect against fraudulent voting.
The ACLU of Nebraska had warned lawmakers that it would sue the state it the bill became law.
Larson said he believes the majority of Nebraska’s citizens want a voter ID law. He said he would consider sponsoring similar legislation next year.
“The new members of the Legislature, nobody quite knew where they were going to be, and they showed where they were and that’s part of dealing with a new body,” Larson said.