Dramatic Nebraska Winner-Takes-All Vote Fails in GOP-Controlled Legislature

A woman votes from a booth as her child plays with a cellphone below inside the gymnasium
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

An effort to change the electoral vote allocation system to a winner-takes-all system in Nebraska failed in the state’s unicameral legislature on Wednesday night.

The Lincoln Journal Star’s Andrew Wegley reported:

The Legislature voted 8-36 on a procedural motion from Sen. Julie Slama that, if successful, would have allowed lawmakers to then vote on legislation to eliminate Nebraska’s system for presidential elections that allowed Joe Biden and Barack Obama to each pick up a single electoral vote in the state in 2020 and 2008, respectively.

While the vote lawmakers took late Wednesday was not directly tied to the winner-take-all legislation — which former President Donald Trump and Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen implored Republican lawmakers in the state’s formally nonpartisan Legislature to pass this week — Slama cast the vote on the procedural moment as “the last chance to pass winner-take-all this session.”

But Wegley noted in a post on X that the proposal for a change from a split electoral vote-awarding system based on congressional districts to a winner-takes-all system “will likely go up for a vote again before this session finally ends.”

However, Slama (R) responded to his tweet, declaring that “It won’t come up for a vote again.”

“I know that’s what was promised, but there are no vehicles on which it could attach. Winner Takes All isn’t moving in 2024,” she added.

The effort has been backed by prominent Republicans at the state and national level, including Gov. Jim Pillen (R-NE), Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE),  former President Donald Trump, and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk.

Ricketts emphasized that after State Sen. Mike McDonnell (R-05) left the Democrat Party to become a Republican on Wednesday, the GOP would have a “filibuster-proof” majority in the unicameral legislature.

He expressed excitement over the timing of the seat pick-up amid the effort for the now-unrealized winner-takes-all change.

Slama said after the vote that “the ‘filibuster-proof’ majority doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to make Nebraska a Winner-Take-All state in an election year. Wild.”

The bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Loren Lippincott (R),  said “he will make one more attempt [Thursday] to attach the bill’s language to LB 541, a bill by Sen. John Lowe of Kearney…,”  the Nebraska Examiner’s Aaron Sanderford wrote in a tweet.

Lowe, however, noted there are not yet enough votes to break a filibuster and is unsure about requesting his legislation be scheduled, per Sanderford.


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