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Nebraska GOP lawmakers renew voter ID bill effort

A group of Republican state lawmakers in Nebraska are pushing a new bill that would require people to present a photo ID when they vote.

The measure, introduced Friday by state Sen. Andrew La Grone, is a proposed state constitutional amendment that would require a poll worker to “review a photograph or digital image of each voter to verify the identity of the voter prior to allowing the voter to vote.”

The bill doesn’t state exactly how this review would happen, leaving out details like who would be exempt and the types of identification that would be required.

In a statement to the Omaha World-Herald, La Grone said he offered the proposal because he believes that Nebraskans overwhelmingly back voter ID requirements.

“I think it’s an important issue that the people of Nebraska want the Legislature to take seriously,” he told the outlet. “They deserve to have a say.”

La Grone did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNN.

The bill cites combatting voter fraud as one of the reasons for the requirement, though the rate of fraudulent/illegal voting in elections is extremely rare. According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice, voter fraud is more closely due to clerical errors or bad data matching practices. The report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003% and 0.0025%.

The measure has 13 other Republican co-sponsors in the Senate. If approved by the state’s single-chamber Legislature, the measure would appear on the November ballot for voters to decide.

The issue has gained steam among Republicans nationwide, as Trump has without evidence claimed that he lost the popular vote in critical battleground states like New Hampshire in 2016 due to “thousands and thousands of people, coming in from locations unknown” at the last minute to vote for Hillary Clinton.

The most recent legislation has already been met with some opposition by voting rights group Civic Nebraska, which has denied that the state has faced voter fraud issues in its elections. It also noted that the measure would “result in a wildly expensive legislative solution to a problem that simply does not exist.”

“No one can point to a voter impersonation fraud conviction in our state — or even a tangible problem of voter fraud,” John Cartier, the group’s director of voting rights, said in a statement last week.

“Civic Nebraska and our statewide coalition of voting rights advocates stand ready to defeat this legislation in the interest of all Nebraska voters,” Cartier added.

Civic Nebraska contends the measure would hurt three categories of voters: rural voters, elderly voters and voters who face financial challenges, such as in homeless or poor communities. Such voters already face limited access to places like the Department of Motor Vehicles and may struggle to come up with money for a government issued photo ID.

Cartier also pointed to the bill being a campaign promise fulfilled for Republican Secretary of State Robert Evnen, who heavily touted voter ID legislation as part of his 2018 campaign.

A similar bill was introduced in the Kentucky legislature; Republicans, who have prioritized the measure for the 2020 legislative session.

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect that Nebraska has a unicameral legislature.