Memo on LB 239 by Nebraskans for Civic Reform

By Adam Morfeld, Executive Director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform Voter Identification’s (ID) Discriminatory Effect: Voter ID laws disproportionately affect the most mobile and economically disadvantaged segments of our society: youth and low-income populations. As such, they are much more likely not to be properly registered to vote in their current precinct and much less likely to have a valid ID for purposes of voting. See the attached Brennan Center study. A valid ID for purposes of voting is not just an unexpired state-issued identification card but rather one that also has the voter’s current home address. According to the DMV, an estimated ten to twenty percent of Nebraskans, roughly 130,000 citizens, do not have a valid ID with their current address on it. See attached NCR fact sheet.

Original LB 239: Originally the bill required either a valid state-issued photo identification card or driver’s license with a current home address, a military ID, or a passport. Free IDs were to be provided only to those considered “indigent” and to no one else. This is unconstitutional.

NCR pointed out the proposed voter ID amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. Also, while the actual fiscal note was never officially released, it likely would have been around $2,000,000. The DMV originally tried to issue a fiscal note based on indigency, but indigency was not defined. Eventually the DMV estimated the fiscal impact at about $800,000 based on the number of yearly requests for non-drivers license photo IDs. In response to our claims that the bill was unconstitutional and that it would have an inevitably high fiscal note to ensure the IDs were free for all citizens who wished to use them to vote, Senator Janssen amended the bill to make it politically feasible to committee members.

LB 239 as Amended: The bill as amended will allow voter registration cards issued by the county election commissioner to be an acceptable form of voter ID. The process is as follows: Every two years, the secretary of state will cross-reference the voter registration database with the DMV database. Whoever is registered to vote but whose name is not in the DMV database will be mailed a voter registration card from their county election commissioner/administrator.

However, a problem remains. As described above, a valid identification card for purposes of the statute is one that has a current and valid home address on it. This applies to the voter registration card from the county election official as well as to an unexpired driver’s license. For anyone who has moved and not re-registered to vote to report their new home address or for someone who has moved and not reported their new address to the local DMV office (even though they still have an unexpired license), their state-issued voter registration card or their unexpired driver’s license will not be considered valid on Election Day for lack of a current and valid home address. Because of this, they will likely be turned away from the polls on Election Day. This will affect approximately 130,000 Nebraskans who are mostly youth and low-income voters based on their mobility.

For more information on LB 239 contact Adam Morfeld at: