LINCOLN — State lawmakers would have to confirm election commissioners appointed by the governor to serve in Douglas, Sarpy and Lancaster Counties under a bill introduced Monday in the Nebraska Legislature.
A group that last year criticized the performance of Douglas County Election Commission David Phipps praised the proposal, saying it was time to provide an “independent” layer of oversight over such gubernatorial appointees.
“The recent events in Douglas County with mass polling place closures, miscommunication and misinformation, and the unlawful denial of provisional ballots to voters only illustrates the need,” said Adam Morfeld, executive director of Nebraskans for Civic Reform.
Currently, the governor directly appoints the election commissioners in counties with more than 100,000 population, which translates into the state's three largest counties. Legislative Bill 188 would require the Nebraska Legislature to confirm the appointments.
Current state law allows counties with a population of 20,000 to 100,000 to create an office of the election commissioner, with that person appointed by the county board. In all other counties, the county clerk handles the task of election commissioner.
State Sen. Russ Karpisek of Wilber sponsored LB 188, saying he was not pleased about the controversies in Douglas County.
Karpisek also introduced a second proposal, LB 183, that would change how election commissioners are appointed. That bill would put the county board in charge of appointing such officials. Karpisek said that would take most of the politics out of the appointment and make it a local decision, rather than one made by the governor.
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