OMAHA (KPTM)- It's what some say makes Nebraska unique and the only thing that makes presidential candidates pay attention to our state during election years.
But Nebraska's Republican Party wants to change that. It wants to make Nebraska like 48 other states; whichever candidate wins the popular vote gets all of Nebraska's electoral votes. Under the system, each state has a number of presidential electors equal to the number of its senators and representatives in congress. Nebraska has five electoral votes; two of the five are awarded to the winner of the statewide election and each of the other votes is awarded to the winner in each of the state's three congressional districts.
Nebraska is one of two states in the country that uses this format. James De Mott, a registered Democrat says, "Nebraska seems to me that it is the redest of red states." A long time registered democrat, James De Mott has lived in Nebraska for more than thirty years. De Mott says, "Nebraska would always go for a Republican, I felt as though my vote usually didn't count very much." But he still votes every year. "I thought it was important to speak out, my voice was important."
But he feels even more strongly about it this year since Nebraska's split electoral vote system could make Nebraska relevant in the election. Nebraska Democratic Party chairman, Steve Achelpohl says, "Our system certainly enhances political participation and political debate."
Right now forty-nine percent of the state's voters are republicans while 34 percent are democrats. But in Douglas County democrats outnumber republicans by a narrow margin. Achelpohl says, "This would not be going on if we didn't split our electoral votes." But, the Republican Party wants to change that and go to a winner take all format. "I think for them to raise this issue at this point of time is nothing short of disgusting, we're in the middle of a political campaign," Achelpohl says.
David Kramer with the Republican Party says it has nothing to do with the increased number of registered democrats. "I think it's a question of fairness." Kramer says the system only works for the democrats. Kramer says, "If it's good for us here than it ought to be good for us in California, in New York and those places where democrats would fight tooth and nail to make sure this kind of proposal never ever got passed." 80-year-old Helen Houston, who lives next door to De Mott, agrees.
Registered republican, Helen Houston says, "I think it has sparked a lot of energy but I still feel we need to be the same as the rest of the country." Republicans have tried to change the system in the past in 19-95 and 97, both times former Democratic Governor Ben Nelson vetoed it.
The chances the voter system will change next year depend on Nebraska's legislature. With new senators coming in, it depends which party gets the majority of the seats.