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Despite Trump push, Nebraska unlikely to change electoral vote system for now

A late push to change Nebraska’s unusual electoral vote system appears doomed for now — despite the urging of former president Donald Trump and his allies, who saw an opportunity to gain an advantage in his rematch against President Biden.

The sponsor of the bill to change the system, state Sen. Loren Lippincott (R), told the Lincoln Journal Star on Friday that “it’s just procedurally impossible” to pass the proposal in the final days of the state’s legislative session.

His comments came after the leader of the Nebraska Legislature, Sen. John Arch (R), said he was restricting major amendments to bills on the floor, most likely taking away the last best path for Lippincott’s proposal.

“The time for adding bills to bills is over,” Arch told members Friday morning.

The state’s legislative session ends April 18, though members have only four meeting days scheduled after this weekend. While Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) could call a special session to consider the proposal, it’s not clear if the bill would have the votes to overcome a filibuster.

“It doesn’t have the votes to get out of committee, and it doesn’t have the votes for cloture,” said Tony Baker, the legislative aide to state Sen. Tom Brewer (R), referring to the process for ending a filibuster. “The governor could call a special session. It is not advisable to do that, if you don’t have the votes.”

A supporter of the proposal, state Sen. Julie Slama (R), lamented its fate in an X post Friday, saying, “High-pressure tactics in Nebraska’s nonpartisan Unicameral don’t play well and usually backfire.”

Nebraska is one of only two states that award electoral votes among statewide and congressional district winners, a system that allowed Biden to pick off one electoral vote in an Omaha-area swing district in 2020. Lippincott’s bill would return Nebraska, a solidly red state, to a winner-take-all system where the statewide winner is entitled to all its electoral votes.

Lippincott’s legislation had been languishing until Tuesday, when Trump and Pillen came out in support of it. Hours earlier, a prominent Trump ally, Charlie Kirk, asked his large social media following to pressure Pillen and state lawmakers to advance the legislation.

On Wednesday night, one of Lippincott’s GOP colleagues — Slama — unsuccessfully sought to add his bill as an amendment to unrelated legislation. The amendment was ruled not germane, and a vote to override the ruling failed.

Lippincott was still holding out hope Thursday that his proposal could be tacked on to another bill, while Pillen sounded less optimistic.

“Conservative Nebraskans have to get in the game and have your voice be heard,” Pillen said at an unrelated news conference. “We can’t fix winner-take-all in 30 hours. It’s been a problem for 30 years. We have to win elections.”

Slama said Friday that for those newly pushing the winner-take-all proposal, it “probably would’ve been more helpful to pay attention to our elections a couple weeks (or years) ago.”

Kirk, the founder and CEO of Turning Point USA, was planning to visit Omaha on Tuesday for a rally to urge passage of the proposal. Kirk said Friday on X that Pillen should call a special session, adding that Trump “needs this electoral vote in November.”

Democrats and some Republicans in Nebraska had balked at having the issue foisted upon them in the already busy final days of their session.

“This is about a tweet,” state Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh, a Democrat who represents Omaha, said before the Wednesday vote. “We are allowing ourselves to be governed by a tweet, and that’s not how we should make policy.”

Michael Scherer contributed to this report.

correction

A caption with a previous version of this story misstated the title of Nebraska state Sen. John Arch. He is the leader of the Legislature, not the House speaker. The caption has been corrected.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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