Gov “concerned” Nebraska could again split electoral vote


May 22nd, 2012

Omaha, NE – Gov. Dave Heineman says he’s concerned Nebraska could again split its electoral vote in November’s general election.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Heineman said the state’s unique model, shared only by Maine, should be scrapped for a winner-take-all system. He called the current system “totally inappropriate.”

Gov. Dave Heineman said Tuesday he's concerned Nebraska could again split its electoral vote. (Photo courtesy State of Nebraska)

Nebraska’s split model helped send one extra vote to now-President Barack Obama from the Second Congressional District in 2008. Nebraska lawmakers have attempted to switch the state to a winner-take-all system, but those attempts have failed in the Legislature.

“I think we put Nebraska at a disadvantage,” Heineman said. “We have a national presidential election and 48 states are playing by one set of rules and Nebraska and Maine are playing by another set. I think that’s wrong.”

Heineman called the effort to retain the current system “partisan and political.” He was responding to questions about presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s early visit to Omaha this month in a sign the Omaha-based district could be a battleground in November.

Heineman also weighed in on the validity of Omaha and Lincoln’s newly-passed ordinances that protect gay and lesbian residents from discrimination. The Governor said those ordinances, which outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the workplace, should be put to a public vote.

The city councils of Omaha and Lincoln both passed ordinances in recent weeks. They were subject to hours of impassioned public testimony from both sides of the debate. But Attorney General Jon Bruning has said that public input didn’t go far enough. Bruning issued a non-binding opinion earlier this month saying the cities’ ordinances went further than what is allowed in state statute, and that they should be put to a vote. Tuesday, Heineman agreed. The Governor related it to this year’s legislative session, where lawmakers pushed a sales tax forward that would be decided by public vote.

“When they want to raise taxes, (it’s) trust the people,” Heineman said. “Okay, if we can trust the people to vote on a tax increase, surely, we can trust the people to vote on one of the most fundamental values we have in this state.”

Gov. Heineman was also asked whether his opinion on gay marriage has “evolved” as President Barack Obama said his views had, before he came out in support. He responded his views have evolved to “exactly where they have been a long time.”

2 Responses

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    So, it’s okay to trust the people to vote for taxes (sure, that’s gonna happen!), but giving them more participation in the Electoral College is a bad idea? (And while the Unicameral is debating that, perhaps they can pass a law which allows the citizens of Nebraska to vote on pay raises for elected officials.)

    How much money did the presidential candidates spend on advertising in the Omaha market in 2008? How did that compare to years when it was winner-take-all?

    How many candidates visited the state during the primary back then? How many now? How many will campaign locally because this electoral vote is in play?

    But maybe the Governor is correct. Perhaps Nebraska shouldn’t be at the forefront of democratic reform. Perhaps we should go back to a bicameral legislature, just like every other state in the Union.

  2. John D. Andrews says:

    The governor, as usual, is being partisan in his remarks. He bemoans the fact that Nebraska has a system that represents all voters. What he doesn’t say, is the Republican Party is trying to change the winner take all process in other states to Nebraska’s model, so they can garner more electoral votes. The governor is showing his partisan colors, and not representing all Nebraskans. As for putting the fairness ordinances to a vote — why? We have elected representatives to represent us. They did their job. If we had put civil rights in the 1960’s to a vote African Americans would mostly likely still not have all the rights they have now, or at the least, would not have had them for many more years later. The governor knows that Nebraska is a state with much bigotry. Consequently, he knows that a vote of the people would most likely continue discrimination against citizens of our state.

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