While LB 239 has been pulled, it is expected to make a come back. If anyone would like to guest blog or be interviewed on this topic or another, please send an email to email@example.com
Thank you to Linda Duckworth of League of Women Voters for the interview.
NP: Please tell me a little about yourself, your organization and how you became a part of it.
LD: I’m Linda Duckworth, president of the League of Women Voters of Nebraska.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization which encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy.
I first joined the LWV in Missouri. I respected the work they did in voter education and in their careful studies of issues.
NP: What is your position on LB 239?
LD: I am personally opposed to this bill and so is the League.
From a personal standpoint it will make my life harder if I have to take my mother and her walker to the DMV to get a Nebraska I.D. I will have to locate her birth certificate and perhaps her marriage license and other items in order to obtain something she has no interest in having. The state of Nebraska has been doing a stellar job with elections by checking signatures at the polling place. Numerous policies are in place that prevent voter impersonation, and voter impersonation is the only type of fraud addressed in this bill. (Not petition fraud, for instance)
NP: Why are you opposed to this bill?
LD: See above, and also: it is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money. The sponsor of the bill states a fiscal note of zero, but that’s because it would be an unfunded mandate for which the counties would have to somehow find funding. While estimates of these costs vary widely, it has been stated that every provisional ballot would cost a county about $30 extra to process. With so many people caught unawares of this law there would be a great many provisional ballots cast.
NP: Which populations do you think are most affected by this?
LD: All populations would be affected, and that is what a great many voters (and even state senators) don’t seem to get. Every single person that walks into the polling place will have to show a valid (unexpired, correct name, correct address) I.D., even if the poll worker is a next door neighbor or a first cousin.
NP: Do you think this will impact one party more than another?
LD: I don’t know. I have heard that many elderly African Americans do not have birth certificates, and that most African Americans are Democrats, but I don’t know if either of those statements is true for Nebraska. I do think it could be a problem for my friends from South Sudan (refugees with minimal documentation), but I have not found that group to lean more heavily toward one party or another.
NP: It has been said by some that requiring state issued photographic voter ID is an obvious thing that the US should have been doing years ago. How do you reply?
LD: It does seem obvious at first glance, and that is why there is a lot of support for the bill in the general population. It is our elected leaders’ responsibility to delve more deeply into issues like this, on behalf of their constituents. When one actually does some careful research into LB 239 one finds that the system is not currently broken. The election commissioners and their employees check various databases when citizens register to vote. When the person shows up to vote, his or her signature is often a more accurate match with the signature on the roll book than the picture I.D. when compared to the actual person.
NP: Do you believe that the issue of voter fraud (by people pretending to be someone else in order to vote) is serious in tipping an election either way? If possible, please cite examples or statistics for or against.
LD: Absolutely not – especially not in the U.S. and especially not in Nebraska. There has been one documented attempt at voter impersonation that I know of in the past 50 years in our state. Proponents of the bill like to say it’s a good bill because it would make sure voter impersonation couldn’t happen. But precincts are small enough that nearly every person who walks in to vote is known by someone there. It would be a very risky undertaking, and getting caught would mean 10 years in prison and a hefty fine. Almost no one is willing to become a felon for one single vote.
NP: Is there any wording you would like changed or added to LB 239, if the bill were to pass?
LD: No. As I said before, what we have in place works very well, so tinkering with it is a waste of senators’ time and a huge waste of taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
NP: How much do you think it will cost to implement?
LD: I’ve heard as little as $300,000 to as much as many million. It could be much more than that if the state is required to include an education component to the new law. Other states have been required to do that.