Learn More About Election Equipment and Processes in Douglas & Sarpy Counties

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, host Geri Simon speaks with Douglas County Election Commissioner Brian Kruse and Sarpy County Election Commissioner Michelle Andahl about voting equipment, updates, and general voter information.

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube.

Learn About the Effort to Restore Voting Rights to Nebraskans with Felony Convictions

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha!, Krystal Fox, LWVGO Co-President, speaks with Nebraska State Senator Justin Wayne (Omaha, LD 13) and Brad Christian-Sallis, Voting Rights Policy Organizer for Civic Nebraska, about Sen. Wayne’s bill LB 83. LB 83 would provide for the restoration of voting rights upon completion of a felony sentence or probation of a felony. The bill was heard in the Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee on March 6, 2019.

Contact Sen. Justin Wayne at jwayne@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2727.

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube. You can also listen to these episodes as podcasts on Podbean.


League of Women Voters Urges Support for HR4

March 21, 2019

TO:               Members of the U.S. House
FROM:         Chris Carson, President
RE:               Support the Voting Rights Advancement Act, H.R. 4

The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to support and pass HR4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to modernize and repair the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

The legislation responds directly and responsibly to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder and subsequent decisions by state and local jurisdictions to implement discriminatory practices connected to our elections. This legislation will update the coverage formula for preclearance to ensure it is based on contemporary acts of discrimination and provide mechanisms to prevent discrimination in voting nationwide.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) outlawed racial discrimination in voting and established procedures to protect equal access to the vote for every American citizen. But in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned the key provision of the VRA that triggered careful review of voting changes in political jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting before they could take effect. Since that decision, politicians in states, counties, cities, and towns across the country have passed laws and adopted practices that discriminate against voters of color and language minorities — making it harder for them to register and more difficult to vote and has shown the continued need for these protections.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would accomplish three major goals:

1)    It re-establishes preclearance coverage for states and localities with a pattern of discrimination in voting with a contemporary look back period.
2)    It provides preclearance nationwide for political subdivisions with substantial minority populations for a limited number of voting changes based upon evidence of historic discriminatory, such as changes to election methods, changes to the qualifications to vote, and deviant polling location consolidation.
3)    It provides for greater transparency and public notice for late-breaking voting changes just before an election, changes in polling resources, and use of demographic and electoral data. 

For decades, ensuring that all eligible Americans have equal access to the ballot is a long-standing value supported by all sectors of our country. It is a value that has united our nation for more than 50 years and is why the League of Women Voters urges you to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act.  

Urge Your Representative to Vote Yes on HR1 This Week

Voters across the country voted for democracy reform up and down the ballot in 2018, sending the 116th Congress a clear message that the country is ready for bold, comprehensive democracy reforms.

And now, HR1, the For The People Act is on the verge of passing the House of Representatives – THIS WEEK the House will vote on this historic piece of legislation.

Call your Representative TODAY through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to vote to pass H.R. 1 – the  “For The People” Act.

HR1 is the biggest democracy reform agenda many of us have seen since the Voting Rights Act. This bill will revamp our voting system, implement fair redistricting, and crack down on dark money in elections so that voters have a stronger voice at the ballot box.

We must get this bold, transformative set of reforms to strengthen our democracy and return political power to the people over the finish line but we cannot do it without your help!

Call your Representative TODAY through the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to commit to vote YES on  H.R. 1.

LWVNE Testimony in Support of LB 175

On Feb. 20, LWVNE submitted written testimony in support of LB 175, a bill to change provisions regarding candidate committee funds.

Download the submitted testimony or read the full text below.

Senator Tom Brewer, Chair

Government, Military, and VA Committee

State Capitol

Re:  Hearing for LB 175 (Chambers)  to change provisions regarding candidate committee funds

Dear Senator Brewer and Members of the Committee,

The League of Women Voters has worked on transparency in campaign finance since the early 1970s, spurred by spending abuses in congressional and presidential campaigns.  The Nebraska League has turned its attention to monitoring transparency in state level campaigns.  

We support Senator Chambers’  bill because of its solid protection for donors who wish to give to a particular candidate’s campaign with the expectation that their donation will support their candidate of choice.

We urge you to advance LB 175 to General File for full debate by the members of the Senate.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynne Elwood, Government Director                         

Sherry Miller, President

Recapping the 2018 Elections with the Douglas County Election Commission

In this episode of Go Vote, Omaha, LWVGO member MaryLee Moulton interviews Douglas County Election Commission Director Brian Kruse and Deputy Director Chris Carithers about the recent election, how votes are counted, shifts to early vote by mail, and other election topics.  

Go Vote Omaha! is our locally produced informational television program. Watch Go Vote Omaha at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday nights on Cox channel 22 or CenturyLink channel 89 or anytime on YouTube. You can also listen to these episodes as podcasts on Podbean.

Unicameral Considers Redistricting Bills

Last week, the Nebraska state legislature’s Executive Board considered four proposals regarding the Legislature’s redistricting process.

Two of these bills — 253 and 466 — are among LWVNE/LWVGO’s 2019 priority bills.

The committee took no immediate action on any of the proposals.

LWNE President Sherry Miller encourages all LWVNE/LWVGO members to contact their state senators to urge them to support LB 253 and LB 466.

The members of the executive committee are: Hilgers (Chair), Vargas (Vice Chair), Bolz, Chambers, Hughes, Kolterman, Lowe, McCollister, Scheer, Stinner

Our 2019 Priority Bills

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska and League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha have considered all legislation introduced in this Unicameral term and determined the organizations’ priority bills for 2019.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that never supports or opposes political parties or candidates. We are a political organization that has guiding values and policy recommendations. Using our programs — the list of political positions adopted by the national, state and local organizations — as a guide, LWVNE and LWVGO have adopted the following as priority bills.

We Support:

We Oppose:

Read on to find out more about these bills and how our organization came to support or oppose them.

Support

Redistricting Reform

LB 253 and LB 466

LB 253, introduce by Sen. John McCollister (LD 20), is a reintroduction of Sen. Harr’s LB 216 from last year, which we also supported.

LB 466, introduced by Sen. Sara Howard (LD 9) is a reintroduction of her bill from last year, which we also supported.

Why do we support redistricting reform as presented in LB 253 and LB 466?

The basic commonalities and differences in the bills are:

  1. Most important, in both bills, neither the Independent Commission nor the Legislative Redistricting Committee draw the maps.  The maps are prepared by the Legislative Research Office (LRO) using a software it prepares and approves—except in LB 466, third drawing of maps is done by the Legislature’s Executive Board.
  2. Voting in Legislature:  LB466 no amendments any of the three times the bills could come to the Legislature; LB 253 no amendments for first two times but amendments third time.
  3. Both set dates, chair, and report on 3 Public Input Hearings (one in each Congressional District): LB 253: Commission (composed of 3 Republicans, 3 Democrats, and one non-partisan elected by the 6); LB 466 the Legislative Redistricting Committee.
  4. LB 253 does not allow packing or cracking to dilute voting rights of voting majority or minority based on race or language; LB 466 doesn’t address this issue.

We are anticipating that one bill come from the Executive Board combining these bills. We believe that it is critical that the Senator supports:

  1. Critical to assure that the maps are drawn by the Legislative Research Office (LRO) using a software it prepares and approves.  (This avoids use of pre-existing software prepared by groups with political orientation.)
  2. Best to have no amendments on the floor of the Legislature during any of the three times the bills come to the floor.  (There is a period after the first and second votes for members of the Legislature to communicate to the LRO reasons for their votes against the bills, so that future maps may (but will not necessarily) address those issues.
  3. Setting dates, chairing, and reporting on public hearings could be done by either the Commission or the Legislative Committee.  Having hearings in all three Congressional Districts will be important to assuring public input.
  4. Language excluding packing and stacking are important to include in the bill.  

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Adopt the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act

LB 311

LB 311, introduced by Sen. Sue Crawford (LD45), creates a paid family and medical leave insurance program to provide partial wage replacement for eligible workers to care for themselves or a family member following a serious illness or to care for a  new child through birth, foster care or adoption. Leave can also be taken for military exigency.

Why do we support LB 311 and paid family medical leave?

The League of Women Voters believes that one of the goals of social policy should be to promote self-sufficiency for individuals and families and that the most effective social programs are those designed to prevent or reduce poverty.

In addition:

  • Paid Family Medical Leave Act (PFMLA) prevents choosing between the job and caring for a family member.
  • PFMLA provides for a healthy launch into family life for a newborn.
  • PFMLA guarantees leave without having to quit a job, leading to dependence of social services and that social cost to a community.
  • PFMLA benefits employers who can retain an experienced worker, a plus in an era of worker shortage in certain fields.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Provide for Restoration of Voting Rights Upon Completion of a Felony Sentence or Probation for a Felony

LB 83

LB 83, introduced by Sen. Justin Wayne (LD 13), removes the arbitrary two-year waiting period between the completion of felony restitution and the restoration of citizenship rights.

Current Nebraska law prevents someone with a felony conviction from voting for two years following their release and completion of all required probation. Many ex-felons/returning citizens welcome the right to vote again as part of their re-assimilation into society, along with obtaining a driver’s license, getting a job, opening a bank account, etc.

Why do we support LB 83 and the removal of the waiting period?

The League of Women Voters believes voting is a fundamental citizen right that must be guaranteed. Citizens should have full rights following the completion of their sentence and should not be continued to be punished/removed from society.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Criteria for Recipients of Title X Funds

LB 629

LB 629, introduced by Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (LD 28), changes what kind of entitities can receive Title X funding.

Under the bill, the Department of Health and Human Services shall only grant funds received under 42 U.S.C. 300 (Title X) for voluntary family planning programs to entities that are:

  • licensed under the Health Care Facility Licensure Act and provide service to recipients of medical assistance under the Medical Assistance Act;
    •  compliant with the provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and any regulations promulgated under such federal act;
  • able to diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases and infections; and
    • able to provide gynecological exams.

Why do we support LB 629 and requiring that recipients of Title X funds must be clinics with real medical personnel and facilities?

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska supports Title X funding, which provides family planning and reproductive health care services to low income individuals and families.

The intent of LB 629 is to ensure that Title X funds are distributed only to those family planning services which are staffed with medical personnel trained and licensed to diagnose and treat STDs and infections and to provide gynecological exam.  Family planning services without such medical personnel will not qualify for the grants.

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Oppose

Public Funds for Private Schools

LB 670

LB 670, introduced be Sen. Lou Ann Linehan (LD 39), is a reincarnation of LB 295 from the 2017-18 session. It provides for the creation of scholarship-granting organizations, which shall be certified by the Department of Revenue, and can provide educational scholarships to students attending a qualified school. 

Why do we oppose LB 670?

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska believes in a public educational system financed by a combination of local and state revenues.

The League opposes state aid to non-public schools. 

Read more about this bill in the citizen lobbying guide prepared for Legislative Day 2019.

Read More

Follow the Unicameral Update for news about the legislature and the progress of bills.

Take Action: Help HR1 Move Forward

New legislation from Congress, HR 1, the For the People Act, will modernize our election system, reform redistricting, and restore the Voting Rights Act.

The extraordinary and comprehensive reforms in HR1 are good for all Americans and deserve bipartisan support. That’s why we need YOU to contact your Representative and express your support for this legislation. 

Find and contact your Representative via the League of Women Voters’ website.

Legislature Recognizes August 2019 as Nebraska Woman’s Suffrage Month

Members of the League of Women Voters of Nebraska will be acknowledged on Thursday, Feb. 14, by Senator Lynne Walz and members of the legislature in conjunction with a resolution recognizing August 2019 as Nebraska Woman’s Suffrage Month. Walz introduced the legislative resolution with 44 other members of the Nebraska legislature on Feb. 8. It was read into the record on Feb. 11.

The recognition kicks off a celebration from August 2019 through August 2020 by the LWVNE of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women in the United States the right to vote. In the final campaign for women’s suffrage, Nebraska was the 14th state to ratify the 19th Amendment on August 2, 1919. Over the next year, other states followed with Tennessee becoming the 36th needed and final state to ratify the amendment on August 18, 1920. The 19th Amendment officially became part of the U.S. Constitution on August 26, 1920.

“The Nebraska League was organized in June 1920,” said Sherry Miller, president of the LWVNE, “and was fully ready to lead the way for women’s suffrage in Nebraska when it was ratified later that year. It has been leading the way in voter education and protection ever since.”

The ratification of the 19th Amendment was the hard-fought and successful culmination of a 72-year campaign by several generations of suffragists. Led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, women and men at the Seneca Falls, NY, convention in 1848 produced a Declaration of Sentiments that called for actions to equalize women’s status with men, including the right to vote.

LWVNE and LWVGo members with Sen. Walz

Since winning the vote in 1920, more women than men have voted in every presidential election since 1964 and, since 1980, a greater proportion of women than men has voted in presidential elections. In 2019 more women serve in the U.S. Congress and state legislatures than ever before with 102 women in the House of Representatives, 25 in the Senate, and 2,117 in state legislatures. There are now more women senators in the Nebraska legislature than ever before.  “This diversity in our Unicameral creates a more equitable conversation and better represents the makeup of our state,” Walz said.

The League of Women Voters of Nebraska with its local chapters in Omaha, Lincoln, Seward and Hastings plans a yearlong schedule of events, including participation in the 2020 Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

Read the resolution below.