Editorial Summary: Nebraska

Omaha World Herald. October 27, 2022.

Editorial: Photo ID Initiative Adds Unnecessary Burden to Some Nebraska Voters

Voting is a right, and no unnecessary speed bumps should be placed in the way of Nebraskanians who want to exercise that right.

That’s why Initiative 432, a proposed constitutional amendment to require voters to show “valid photo” ID before voting, is a bad idea.

The amendment would apply to voters who go to the polls as well as those who mail their ballots early, without exception. The legislature would establish the specific rules if the initiative passes.

Some say Nebraska’s voter ID rules would become among the most restrictive in the country.

This election measure is an overreaction to unfounded concerns about election security. If passed, it would unfairly force some of our fellow citizens to take additional steps to vote. And the additional charges could undermine the goal of encouraging all Nebraskans to exercise their right to vote.

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Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen, who supports the voter ID proposal, acknowledges that Nebraska hasn’t had a problem with voter fraud in general — let alone cases of people trying to impersonate. others in order to be able to vote. World-Herald reporter Martha Stoddard also found that no more than a handful of such cases have occurred in a nationwide election.

Anyone who tries to impersonate a voter is breaking applicable law and must be prosecuted. But our elections are not stolen that way.

We understand the superficial appeal of requiring photo ID. Most of us already have driver’s licenses or alternative state-issued IDs. And we’re all used to showing photo ID to get on a plane or buy booze or open a bank account — although most of those are voluntary activities, not constitutional rights like the vote.

But consider who might not already have that driver’s license in their purse or wallet: low-income people who can’t afford a car. Young people who didn’t want to be added to their family’s car insurance just yet. Those who moved to Nebraska from major cities with plenty of public transportation and limited parking, so they never needed permits. Seniors who may have stopped driving.

They still deserve equal voting rights.

Supporters of the 432 Initiative say these people can get another piece of photo ID. An estimated 25,000 eligible voters would need it. Since voting is a right, Nebraska should make these alternate IDs free. Proponents say it would cost $100,000 a year; opponents say it could cost $750,000 a year, including an education program to help citizens learn the new rules, plus $2.2 million in setup costs.

But that’s exactly what state taxpayers would pay. The onus would be on individual citizens to go the extra mile and likely incur costs if they want to vote.

To obtain an ID card, they had to find the time and resources to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles office and wait in one or more lines. Many of us have experienced this drudgery.

But that’s not all. Applicants will need to bring documents to the DMV, such as a copy of a birth certificate. If that’s not practical, they may have to go to the courthouse or send to another state to get one, at some cost. And all of that would be trickier for someone who, after all, doesn’t have a license to drive anywhere.

Which groups might find these tasks particularly difficult? Low-income people. The elderly. People with mobility problems. Those who need time off from work.

And what about postal ballots? It’s unclear what the Nebraska rules would be, but some states require a voter to submit a photocopy of their license or ID card with their ballot. Not everyone has easy access to a copier.

Also, the concept of photo ID is not foolproof. Dishonest people have been known to use fake, stolen, or borrowed IDs for other purposes.

Our nation’s history includes shameful attempts to disenfranchise certain types of citizens through poll tax and vote testing. In Mississippi, for example, applicants once had to write a citizenship essay, with officials deciding who passed. Often this meant that black candidates were denied the right to vote.

This photo ID proposal does not share the same goal of deterring minority voters, we hope. But it certainly goes against the spirit of the Nebraska constitution, which says “there shall be no impediment or impediment to the right of any qualified voter to exercise the elective franchise.”

Certain eligible voters in Nebraska will certainly be bothered or bothered by this additional requirement. Voters should vote no on Initiative 432.

The Lincoln Journal star. October 26, 2022.

Editorial: Corrections must be accountable

Last year, the Nebraska Department of Corrections received funding to develop a plan for a “halfway house,” a structured environment for parole violators without sending them back to jail.

During this 2021 session, the Legislative Assembly also commissioned a comprehensive review of facilities and a study to determine if inmates were properly classified based on security and scheduling needs.

In 2015, lawmakers required the department to produce an electronic medical record tracking system and study the effectiveness of its rehabilitation programs.

To date, none of the studies, plans or systems have been produced.

That failure to produce the reports last week has senators rightly questioning whether the troubled and recalcitrant department intentionally ignored the guidelines. The situation will most likely place him under even greater scrutiny for the failed policies and inaction that have contributed to Nebraska having the most overcrowded prison system in the nation.

Acting Director of Corrections Diane Sabatka-Rine, who had only been in the job for four days at the time of the Judiciary Committee’s public hearing into the failure to file reports, had a handful of apologies and explanations for the inaction of the department which seemed, frankly, unconvincing.

The facilities study, she said, will be done by the end of the year and the inmate classification study by March, both more than a year after they should have been completed. The 2015 programming study was initiated but never completed due to staff turnover, another chronic problem in the Correctional Service.

Most troubling of all, the department has signaled that it will create 96 halfway house beds for parolees, changing, without permission, the legislature’s intention to create the house midway.

The latter is simply an open challenge to a legislative mandate and should be rescinded.

The delays, suggested Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop, appear to have been deliberate. The practical impact has been the withholding of information and analysis from the public as senators earlier this year debated the need for a new $270 million, 1,500-bed prison to replace the US Penitentiary. State of Nebraska.

The senators set aside money for a new prison, but, wisely, did not appropriate it. So the issues of a new jail, overcrowding and the need for sentencing and corrections reform will certainly come back to the Legislative Assembly in January.

It will be a new session with a new legislature which we hope, unlike its predecessors who have repeatedly thrown those cans on the road, will take meaningful steps to address the issues.

There will also be a new administration on Capitol Hill next year, a change that again we hope will produce a more cooperative and transparent relationship with the Legislative Assembly and the public than that of the Ricketts administration and by former manager Scott Frakes.

And, most importantly, reports and studies must be completed and made public before the Legislative Assembly considers bills, has debates, or takes a single vote on correctional matters.

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