Early voters wait in line to get their ballots at the Douglas County Election Commission offices in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 24, 2014.
Nati Harnik/AP

Voter ID bill is dead in Nebraska


Opponents of a voter ID bill in the Nebraska legislature say they’ve succeeded in killing the measure.

Eleven Republicans joined all 14 Democrats Wednesday in voting to shelve for the year an ID bill that just last month was seen as having a good shot at passing.

“It is victory. It’s done,” state Sen. Adam Morfeld, who led the opposition, told msnbc moments after coming off the floor. “The bill is dead.”

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The utter lack of documented voter fraud in the state made the bill a tough sell even with many Republicans. The measure’s backers were unable to cite even one example of fraud that would have been stopped by the law.

“The argument that really won the day was that voter impersonation is a non-existent problem in the state of Nebraska,” Morfeld said. “And why would we have an unnecessary government mandate on a fundamental constitutional right?”

The bill would have required voters show one of a narrow range of forms of identification issued by the state or federal government. Voting rights advocates had said at least 112,000 Nebraskans, likely significantly more, lack the ID that would have been required.

Morfeld and his allies first conducted a filibuster to temporarily block the bill. That would have forced ID supporters to muster a two-thirds super-majority of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature—that is, 33 out of 49 votes—to break. But as the vote-counting process unfolded, the bill’s opponents decided to shoot higher.

“We found out half-way through the filibuster that we actually had a majority of folks that wanted to kill the bill” outright, said Morfeld.

The victory was helped by Nebraska’s unusual legislature, which isn’t organized by party, though individual members have party affiliations. That makes it easier for lawmakers to vote their consciences.

“It’s much less partisan in our body, and people are able to be more independent,” said Morfeld. “People aren’t punished for not following the party lines on certain issues, because our leadership is non-partisan.”