Voter ID Ballot Measure Passes in Nebraska, Unlikely to Do so in Arizona

Nebraska voters have overwhelmingly approved a state constitutional amendment to require voters to provide photo identification at polling places to legally cast ballots. A similar measure in Arizona appears to have failed.

Nebraskans on Nov. 8 made their state the 22nd in the nation to require a valid photo ID to vote by adopting Initiative 432, which garnered nearly 66 percent of the tally on the state’s midterm ballot.

Arizona’s Proposition 309, which would have required birthdates and government-issued ID numbers with early ballots and photo ID for in-person voting, was trailing by less than 950 votes, approximately 0.8 of a percent, as of Nov. 16, but with 99 percent-plus of ballots counted, it is unlikely to advance.

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A man checks the ID of a voter before giving them a ballot at an early voting location in Fairfax, Va., in September 2020. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

The Nebraska and Arizona measures are the sixth and seventh presented to voters nationwide seeking to enact voter ID requirements since 2011, says Ballotpedia. 

Arkansas, North Carolina, Missouri, and Mississippi voters approved such measures between 2011 and 2014. Minnesotans rejected one in 2012.

The two were among 137 proposed state constitutional amendments that qualified for 2022 ballots across 37 states. Topics ranged from abortion to marijuana, taxes, and minimum wage, to slavery.

The Nebraska and Arizona proposals were among six 2022 measures that addressed elections regulations and voting requirements in six states.

More than 77 percent of Ohio voters agreed United States citizenship should be required to vote in local elections. A similar proposed amendment goes before voters in Louisiana on Dec. 10.

In Michigan and Connecticut, meanwhile, voters endorsed proposed constitutional amendments that allow for early in-person voting in those states for the first time. Both measures secured 60 percent approval.

Photo ID: One Yeah, One Nay

Nebraska Initiative 432: The “Photo Voter Identification Initiative” easily passed and now the state’s unicameral, nonpartisan Senate must adopt implementing legislation to encode the new state Constitutional requirement in statutes.

With 99 percent of the tally counted, the Nebraska secretary of state reports 65.6 percent, or 427,714 voters, said “yes” to the proposal while 34.4 percent, or 224,730, said “no.”

The ‘‘Photo Voter Identification Initiative” amends the Nebraska Constitution to require valid photo ID to vote and authorizes the state Senate in its 2023 session to stipulate what those ID requirements would be.

Nebraska was one of 15 states without voter ID requirements in its constitution. It now joins 21 states that require a photo ID to cast any vote and 36 that require some form of ID to vote in-person. 

After Nebraska lawmakers failed to pass voter ID bills at least seven times in the past decade, Citizens for Voter ID got the proposed amendment on the ballot by submitting more than 172,000 signatures, nearly 50,000 more than required, before the June 7 deadline.

Citizens for Voter ID was led by Sen. Julie Slama (R-Dunbar), and supported by Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts. 

I-432 was opposed by NoTo432.org, a coalition spearheaded by Nebraska for Free and Fair Elections that includes Civic Nebraska, Black Votes Matter, Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Metropolitan Omaha, League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha, and Nebraska NAACP.

According to Nebraskans for Free and Fair Elections, if adopted, I-432 would prevent between 54,500 and 70,000 otherwise eligible state residents from voting. 

Civic Nebraska maintains the four states that have imposed an ID requirement to vote saw 2-to-3 percentage point declines in voter turnout once the new rules were in place.

Arizona Proposition 309: The proposed “Arizonans for Voter ID Act” appears headed for defeat. With 99 percent of the Nov. 8 tally counted as of Nov. 16, 50.41 percent, or more than 1.211 million voters, said “no” while 49.6 percent, or nearly 1.192 million voters, said “yes.”

Proposition 309 would require dates of birth, voter ID numbers for mail-in ballots, and eliminate the current two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting. 

If adopted, voters would need to present either state-issued ID number, such as a driver’s license or the last four digits of social security numbers, and their birthday on mail-in ballots. Right now, only a signature is needed.

Arizona law allows voters without a photo ID to present two documents with their name and address on it to cast a ballot. The proposed amendment would have eliminated that option but offered a voter photo ID card, now available for $12, for free. 

A coalition of conservative groups, organized as Arizonans for Voter ID, mounted a campaign beginning in June 2021 to get the proposal before voters in 2022. Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) sponsored the bill adopted by super-majorities in both chambers to place the measure on the ballot.

Arizonans for Voter ID is spearheaded by the Arizona Free Enterprise Club, which maintained residents support “creating universal voter ID requirements ensuring that no matter when you vote, where you vote, or how you vote, identification will be required.”

The measure was opposed by an array of civic and progressive groups, including the League of Women Voters of Arizona, Opportunity Arizona, One Arizona, Defend Arizona Rights, the Arizona Education Association, and Activate 48, a coalition led by Living United for Change in Arizona, which includes Mi Familia Vota, Our Voice Our Vote Arizona, and Chispa Arizona. 

Defend Arizona maintained that if adopted, Proposition 309 would have led to nearly 400,000 voters having their ballots challenged, calling the measure a “minefield” of “traps and gimmicks.”

It was one of 10 ballot measures Arizonans saw on the Nov. 8 ballot, including an amendment to create a lieutenant governor’s office, which was approved.

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New U.S. citizens recite the “Pledge Of Allegiance” during their naturalization ceremony in Mount Vernon, Va., on July 4, 2022. (Stefani Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Only’ US Citizens Can Vote 

Ohio Issue 2: More than 3 million Ohioans—77 percent of the tally—voted “yes” to amending the state constitution to say “only” a U.S. citizen can vote in any election, prohibiting local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote in municipal and school board elections.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, and North Dakota stipulate in their constitutions stipulate that “only” a citizen can vote. The “only” wording has been installed in all five since 2018. 

Ohio becomes the sixth state to do so. Louisiana could join them by year’s end. Iowa voters will see a similar measure on their 2024 ballots.

Before Nov. 8, the Ohio Constitution read, “Every citizen of the United States … is entitled to vote at all elections.” The adopted Issue 2 changes that wording to “only a citizen of the United States … is entitled to vote at all elections.”

The measure was placed on the ballot by supermajorities of both state legislature chambers in response to a noncitizen voting referendum proposed by the Yellow Springs Village Council and approved by 58 percent of the vote.

The village council’s “misguided” referendum drew sharp rebuke from GOP state lawmakers and Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who lobbied lawmakers to put the proposed measure on the ballot as a “smart preventative measure.”

Among Issue 2 supporters were the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and Federation for American Immigration Reform. Among opponents were Democratic lawmakers and an array of civic, minority, and progressive organizations.

Louisiana Amendment 1:  Louisiana’s “Citizen Requirement for Voting Measure” goes before voters next month. The measure would also prohibit local governments from allowing noncitizens to vote and add a section to the constitution stating, “No person who is not a citizen of the United States shall be allowed to register and vote in this state.”

Amendment 1 is supported by Louisiana’s Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin who maintains the constitution’s reference to being a “citizen of the state” is confusing because a foreign citizen can be Louisiana residents. 

The measure was placed on the ballot by supermajorities in both chambers of the GOP-controlled legislature via a bill sponsored by Rep Debbie Villio (R-Kenner).

It is one of 11 proposed constitutional amendments Louisianans will vote on this fall. They saw eight on their Nov. 8 ballots and will see three more—including Amendment 1—on Dec. 10.

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People check in for early voting at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 5, 2022. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Early Voting Expansions

Michigan Proposal 2: Technically, Michigan already allows for early voting with the 2018 adoption of constitutional amendment that gives every voter in the state the right to file a vote-by-mail ballot, which they can fill out and either return via mail or in person at their local clerk’s office. 

But there was no in-person early voting in Michigan.

With 60 percent, or nearly 2.584 million voters, saying “yes” to Prop 2, the “Right to Voting Policies Amendment,” there will now be a nine-day early voting period for voters to cast ballots in person at designated voting sites.

The measure also requires state government to fund absentee ballot stamps, require more drop boxes, and allow publicly disclosed donations to fund elections. 

Opponents, including Secure MI Vote, argued the provisions—especially the dropbox requirements—impose an “unfunded mandate” on local governments and warned, of adopted, Michigan elections “will not be secure ever again.”

Secure MI Vote’s election integrity concerns garnered little traction but questions about costs caused sober consternation since Prop 2 will require at least one state-funded drop box in every municipality, with additional boxes for every 15,000 voters. 

Proposal 2 backers spearheaded by Promote the Vote 2022, raised more than $12 million in their campaign to adopt the proposal, far exceeding the $2.2 million Secure MI Vote collected in combating the measure.

Connecticut Question 1: The proposed “Allow for Early Voting Amendment” was adopted with 60.2 percent, or 353,239 voters, approving the measure to create an early voting process in the state.

Connecticut, Alabama, Mississippi, and New Hampshire are the only states that do not allow for early voting. But approving Question 1, voters have ordered the state’s General Assembly to adopt enabling legislation that will define what early voting will look like in Connecticut.

A similar ballot measure failed in 2014 but proponents say it was approved in 2022 because its language was simplified.

The ballot measure and any laws it engenders are already being challenged in court.

On Nov. 16, a judge heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by a New Britain resident who claims allowing early voting puts her in “danger of losing her substantial rights, power and privilege over ballot security and election integrity.” 

John Haughey

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John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.

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