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Nebraska Legislature's amended photo ID bill would require notarized signature for mail-in ballots

KETV Omaha 2/2/2023 Andrew Ozaki
nebraska legislature's amendments to voter id bill © KETV nebraska legislature's amendments to voter id bill

You may have to get your signature notarized if you vote by mail in Nebraska under an amended version of a voter ID bill before lawmakers.

State Sen. Julie Slama introduced LB 535.

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It will implement voter ID requirements after Nebraskans voted to adopt a Constitutional Amendment in the November election by 61% majority.

"Nebraskans have spoken, and it is now our responsibility as legislators to ensure that only the votes of eligible voters are counted," said Slama to members of the Legislature's Government and Military Affairs Committee Wednesday.

The new version would accept valid state driver's licenses, state IDs, passports, military IDs and tribal ID cards. There would be an exemption for religious reasons.

Voters who show up at the polls without a valid photo ID could fill out a provisional ballot and have up to seven days to go to the election office to show an ID.

The Secretary of State would be required to inform and help the estimated 19,000 Nebraskan voters who currently don't have photo IDs to obtain free ones.

"The state will cover those costs," Slama said.

Her bill now requires those voting by mail to show a photo ID and get it notarized when a ballot is requested and notarized when it is sent back.

"Nebraskans volunteered and fought beside me to amend our Constitution to require voter I.D. to protect the integrity of our elections. We must use a process that achieves this goal," Slama said.

Secretary of State Bob Evnen said he has not had a chance to review the amended bill but said 98% of Nebraska voters already have photo IDs

"Addressing that group ought to be manageable. It's not a task that is impossible," Evnen said.

Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse said while he supports the bill's goal, he 'strongly' requested notarizing mail-in ballots only be required when they are requested.

"In the event of a problem occurs and the voter secures or corrects the missing elements, the voter would have two additional options to vote. They could come into the election office for the remaining in-person period or go to their polling place on election day," Kruse said.

Other commissioners voiced concerns that some elder and disabled voters who can't come to the DMV will not be able to get IDs

"So please allow other documents such as political subdivision IDs, school IDs, even allowing the state or county to have a mobile unit to issue IDs for voting purposes," said Hall County Election Commissioner Tracy Overstreet.

"This bill is about voter I.D. and making sure that every voter who votes has proper identification It's not about making it harder for people to vote," said Seward County Election Commissioner Sherry Schwitzer.

Doug Kagan the chairman of Nebraskan's Taxpayers for Freedom cited studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Academy of Political Science and Heritage Foundation indicating voter ID laws have not negative effect on registration of minority voters or suppress voter turnout.

"That these voters are as likely to vote in states requiring photo IDs as in states without such requirements," Kagan said.

Others who testified didn't think the bill went far enough to insure election security or public confidence.

But Heidi Uhing of Civic Nebraska said LB 535 is too restrictive.

"It's unfair. It keeps some people from being able to vote. It's really expensive to carry out properly, and it's not necessary. In Nebraska, we don't have a voter fraud problem, a voter impersonation problem in Nebraska to be solved here," Uhing said.

She supports LB 675 introduced by State Sen. Jen Day.

It would expand what IDs are accepted and eliminate expiration dates.

"Expanding DMV office hours and staffing and additional training for people to make sure they know how to provide these services," Uhing said.

A hearing for that bill was set for Feb.8 but has been canceled.


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