Cloture attempt on winner-take-all electoral bill fails

Senators rejected a cloture motion April 12 that would have forced a vote on final passage of a bill to reinstate the winner-take-all system for allocating Nebraska’s presidential electoral votes.

Currently, the winner of Nebraska’s statewide popular vote receives two Electoral College votes. The state’s three congressional districts also award one electoral vote each based on the popular vote winner in each district. Maine is the only other state to use this system.

LB10, sponsored by Omaha Sen. Beau McCoy, would reinstate a winner-take-all system and award all five electoral votes to the winner of the state’s popular vote.

Omaha Sen. Tanya Cook offered a motion to return the bill to select file for consideration of an amendment that would submit the proposal to voters at the upcoming May primary election.

Cook said a winner-take-all system “squelches the voice” of voters who are in the racial and political minority in the state.

“I oppose LB10 as drafted because, simply put, it is not fair or inclusive to Nebraska voters—particularly the wide range of voters that I have the privilege of representing,” Cook said. “Although splitting electoral votes fails to reach the full ideal of one person/one vote, it reflects some semblance of making each person’s vote count.”

Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue supported the motion to return the bill to select file, saying Nebraskans have been clear in their rejection of a winner-take-all system.

“The percent of Nebraskans in 2008 who said that they would like to see a statewide winner-take-all system, as we have proposed here in LB10, was only 13 percent,” she said, adding that a 2011 poll yielded similar results.

McCoy opposed the motion, saying the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures, not voters, the power to choose a method for allocating Electoral College votes.

“I don’t believe that this amendment is the right direction to go because I believe that it would be found to be constitutionally suspect,” he said.

After two hours of debate, McCoy offered a motion to invoke cloture—or cease debate and force a vote on the bill. The motion failed on a vote of 32-17, one vote short of the number required.

A failed cloture motion results in debate on a bill ceasing for the day. With only two days left in the legislative session, LB10 is unlikely to be placed on the agenda again.

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