Nebraska Lawmakers Reject Proposed Winner-Take-All Electoral Vote System

Samantha Flom
By Samantha Flom
April 4, 2024Politics
Nebraska Lawmakers Reject Proposed Winner-Take-All Electoral Vote System
Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln, Neb., on June 24, 2021. (Petr Svab/The Epoch Times)

An effort to change Nebraska’s method of awarding its Electoral College votes to a winner-take-all system was soundly rejected by state lawmakers on April 3.

The push, backed by former President Donald Trump, was scuttled by the state’s unicameral Legislature in an 8–36 procedural vote, which would have attached the associated amendment to an unrelated bill. While Republicans could try to advance the measure again, they have little time to do so in the current legislative session, which ends on April 18.

Nebraska is one of just two states—Maine being the second—that allocates its electoral votes according to the congressional district method. Of the state’s five total votes, one each goes to the winners of the three congressional districts, and the statewide winner collects the remaining two.

The Cornhusker State adopted that system in 1996. In the nearly 30 years since, the state has only split its votes between multiple candidates twice: in 2008 and 2020. In both cases, the state’s 2nd District, surrounding Omaha, peeled off to support the Democrat candidate.

For President Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, that one extra vote could make all the difference in his quest to defeat President Joe Biden this November.

Even if the former president were to win all the states he carried in 2020 and flip Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada to boot, he would still be two votes shy of the 270 required to win the election. But adding Nebraska’s fifth vote to his tally would produce a 269–269 tie, leaving the outcome to the U.S. House to decide.

Trump Urges Return to Former System

To rally support for the winner-take-all shift, President Trump took to Truth Social on April 2.

“Most Nebraskans have wanted to go back to this system for a very long time, because it’s what 48 other States do—It’s what the Founders intended, and it’s right for Nebraska,” he wrote, urging voters to ask their state senators to approve the amendment.

Prominent Republicans, including Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, had also expressed their support for the measure. The change, the governor said, would “ensure our state speaks with one unified voice in presidential elections. I call upon fellow Republicans in the Legislature to pass this bill to my desk so I can sign it into law.”

Democrats, on the other hand, decried the initiative as an attack on democracy.

“Nebraskans want to keep our fair electoral system in place which is why previous attempts by some Republicans over the last thirty years have failed to undo our split electoral votes,” Nebraska Democratic Party chair Jane Kleeb said in a written statement. “We are proud of our unique electoral vote system and know all too well the economic benefits it generates with a national focus on our state.”

Republicans now hold a supermajority in the state Legislature after state Sen. Mike McDonnell announced on April 3 that he was switching his party affiliation to Republican.

Mr. McDonnell, a pro-life Catholic, said his censure by the Nebraska Democratic Party last year for supporting abortion restrictions was what led him to make the switch.

“I have asked the Democratic Party to respect my religious-based pro-life position. Instead, over the last year, they have decided to punish me for being pro-life,” he said at a press conference.

“Being a Christian member of the Roman Catholic Church and pro-life is more important to me than being a registered Democrat,” he continued, adding that he was switching to the GOP effective immediately.

Still, even most Republicans in the Legislature appeared unwilling to move forward with changing the state’s electoral vote system at this juncture.

After the vote, Republican state Sen. Julie Slama, who supported the measure, vented her frustration on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The ‘filibuster-proof’ majority doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to make Nebraska a Winner-Take-All state in an election year. Wild,” she wrote.

Ryan Morgan, Tom Ozimek, Jack Phillips, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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