Special election committee created

Lawmakers approved the creation of a temporary committee Feb. 29 that will analyze the current state of election technology in Nebraska.

LR403, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Matt Hansen, creates the seven-member Election Technology Committee to study the longevity of technology used by election commissioners and county clerks to conduct elections as of Jan. 1, 2016.

The committee also will study the feasibility of updating or replacing elections technology.

Hansen said that passage of the 2002 Help America Vote Act required states to ensure equal access to elections for individuals with disabilities. In response, the Nebraska secretary of state’s office used approximately $15 million in federal funds to purchase Automark machines, which are used by visually impaired voters.

Those machines soon will need to be replaced, Hansen said, and the state must decide who will bear the replacement cost.

“This will allow us to create a broad range of interested senators and highlight the need for [new equipment] to citizens,” he said. “We need to take a good hard look at how elections are [administered] in this state.”

The committee will seek input from interested stakeholders including the secretary of state, county election commissioners, individuals with disabilities and voting rights advocates before submitting a final report to the Legislature by Dec. 15, 2016.

Following the adoption of a technical amendment, the resolution passed on a 30-4 vote.

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