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Omnibus election bill clears final round

Lawmakers gave final approval April 13 to a bill that makes a number of changes to Nebraska’s election laws.

Sen. Tom Brewer
Sen. Tom Brewer

LB843, introduced by Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon, makes several minor changes to current law. Among other provisions, the bill:
• prohibits electioneering within 200 feet of a ballot drop box;
• establishes a deadline of 8 p.m. Central time or 7 p.m. Mountain time on Election Day for receipt of mail-in ballots;
• allows voters who cannot sign their name to use either a symbol or a signature stamp;
• allows county election commissioners to appoint certain election officials who live outside of the county if that county conducts elections exclusively by mail;
• requires non-governmental organizations distributing voter registration forms or early ballot application forms to use those prescribed by the Nebraska secretary of state;
• expands the definition of voting system to include software or service used in the process of creating, casting and counting ballots;
• allows an election commissioner or county clerk to remove a voter from the voter registry if they receive information from the state Department of Motor Vehicles that the voter has moved out of state; and
• establishes procedures for removing a voter from a county’s early ballot request list.

LB843 also includes provisions of the following bills:
• LB733, introduce by Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh, which prohibits foreign nationals from contributing to ballot question campaigns. Contributions from domestic subsidiaries of foreign nationals are allowed under certain circumstances;
• LB841, introduced by Brewer, which allows emergency response providers and others participating in a mutual aid agreement who are responding to an emergency declaration by the president or governor to simultaneously register to vote and request ballots for all elections in a calendar year;
• LB849, introduced by Lincoln Sen. Eliot Bostar, which makes election officials who neglect their duties or willfully engage in conduct prohibited under the state Election Act subject to a Class I misdemeanor;
• LB858, introduced by Sen. Robert Clements of Elmwood, which prohibits the funding of elections by any source other than appropriations from the federal government, the state of Nebraska and Nebraska political subdivisions. In-kind contributions of food and beverages for poll workers or the use of buildings as polling or election training sites are not prohibited. Private entities may donate funds intended to pay for election costs to the Nebraska secretary of state if those funds are appropriated by the Legislature. County clerks are prohibited from soliciting or accepting such grants or donations;
• LB861, introduced by Omaha Sen. John McCollister, which provides an optional field on candidate filing forms for the candidate’s email address;
• LB928, introduced by Sen. Rita Sanders of Bellevue, which requires televised political ads for certain statewide offices to be closed captioned and for a transcript of radio ads to be posted on a candidate’s campaign website; and
• LB1263, introduced by Clements, which establishes statewide standards for ballot drop boxes. Drop boxes must be securely anchored, locked, Americans with Disabilities Act compliant and opened only by a county election commissioner, county clerk or election official designated by the commissioner or clerk. Boxes must be opened for accepting ballots no later than the sixth Friday before a statewide election or the fourth Friday before a special election and emptied each business day.

Senators passed LB843 on a 45-0 vote.

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