Nebraska Enacts New Photo ID Law for Voting

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 1, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) signed Legislative Bill 514, enacting a requirement to present photo identification before voting. L.B. 514 will go into effect on April 1, 2024, in advance of Nebraska’s 2024 primary election.

The one-chamber Nebraska Legislature advanced the bill to Pillen on the final day of their 2023 session. Nebraska now joins 19 other states with photo ID laws, which often require more information than is necessary to confirm a voter’s identity and eligibility. 

The new law implements a state constitutional amendment, Nebraska Initiative 432, approved by voters in November 2022. The initiative amended the state constitution to require voters to present photo identification, but gave the Legislature the authority to implement the law and determine which forms of ID qualify.

L.B. 514 did just that: The law requires voters to show identification issued by the United States, the state of Nebraska or postsecondary institutions within Nebraska that show the voter’s name and “a photograph or digital image of the individual to whom the document was issued.” Military, veteran and tribal IDs, as well as records from health care facilities, that contain a photo of the voter will also be accepted. Nebraskans who vote by mail will either have to include a copy of that photo ID or the identification number on their driver’s license or state identification card.

If voters lack an acceptable ID, they can cast a provisional ballot that will only be counted if they return with an acceptable ID by the Tuesday following Election Day. However, the law exempts voters who have “a reasonable impediment” from obtaining valid photo ID, such as religious objections to being photographed or a lack of required documents to obtain an ID. 

The law also outlines ways for voters to obtain free state identification, expectations for the secretary of state to publicize the new rules and a process to verify citizenship. 

Yesterday, Nebraska lawmakers passed L.B. 514 with 38 lawmakers in favor, one opposed and nine who didn’t vote. The lone no vote was from Sen. Julie Slama (R), a supporter of the ballot measure who believed that the new law was too lenient. According to The Lincoln Journal Star, Slama argued that the law did not closely align with the ballot measure passed by voters, calling it “unconstitutional”  and “voter ID without voter ID.” Slama warned that the bill may face legal challenges.

Read L.B. 514 here.

Learn about Nebraska Initiative 432 here.