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More than a half year after the election, Republican lawmakers are passing new restrictions requiring identification to vote by mail. Voters in Florida and Georgia who want to vote absentee ballots in next year's governors races now must first provide identification to receive a ballot. Only two states had such a law in the books in 2020. New legislation requiring additional identification for mailed ballots has been introduced in 10 states. Critics say the measures may disproportionately bar votes from low-income, minority and college-age voters who are more likely to lack valid identification or an ID with a current address.Republicans pushed for the new restrictions, fanning concerns over election integrity by embracing former President Trump's false claims of voter fraud in last year's election. Those claims have been rejected by more than 50 state and federal courts - including the U.S. Supreme Court. And though all 50 states also certified election results, Republicans have also called for election audits in multiple hotly contested states, alleging fraud. On Friday, a state judge in Georgia ruled that 142,000 mail ballots could be unsealed for inspection in Fulton County, which includes much of Atlanta. Another heated ballot review continues in Arizona, where some Republican officials in Maricopa County say a private GOP audit is causing a split in the party. "There's this bloodthirstiness that's going on in our party right now that I don't understand, but we have to stop it," Bill Gates, Vice Chair of Maricopa Board of Supervisors said. "This is tearing at the foundations of democracy to act in this way to treat one another this way."President Joe Biden won narrow victories in both Georgia and Arizona - with official ballot recounts upholding his wins.One independent voter in Arizona said Republicans insistence on an audit - long after the fact - could stir a backlash against them.  "Well, I think, it's going help the Democrats. We think it's crazy. I mean, now how can people still be questioning this election. you can't fix stupid, I guess."

A Nebraska lawmaker has joined colleagues from across the country in calling for a 50-state audit of the 2020 presidential election results.

Rob Clements

Clements

State Sen. Rob Clements, a Republican from Elmwood, signed on to a letter addressed “To the American People” that seeks a forensic audit of every state election, similar to the just-completed audit in Maricopa County, Arizona.

That months-long review, conducted by allies of former President Donald Trump, concluded last month with presidential vote counts virtually identical to the county’s official tally. However, Trump backers point to other findings, which are disputed by local election officials, as justification for continued questioning of the election results.

The letter, dated Monday and signed by 92 state legislators from multiple states, pointed to the Arizona audit as a key basis for seeking a nationwide review. It calls for states to decertify their presidential electors if the audit shows an inaccurate election was held. It also calls for scrubbing the voter rolls through a canvass of voters.

“Our representative republic suffered a corrupted 2020 election,” the letter said. “This is our historic obligation to restore the election integrity of the vote as the bedrock of our constitutional republic.”

Clements said Tuesday that he doesn’t have evidence of problems or corruption with Nebraska’s election. But he said a number of constituents have raised concerns about election security and have questioned whether their votes were counted correctly.

“I’m not wanting to disqualify President Biden,” he said. “I’m satisfied with ensuring future elections, not invalidating prior ones.”

However, Clements called it “puzzling” and “unusual” to have Democrat Joe Biden and GOP Rep. Don Bacon both secure victory in the Omaha metro area’s 2nd Congressional District. The district had a similar split in 2008 as well, when Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Rep. Lee Terry both won.

He also hesitated when asked whether he has confidence in Nebraska Secretary of State Bob Evnen and Gov. Pete Ricketts, two fellow Republicans who defended the safety and security of the state’s election system last fall. Clements ended up pointing to the concerns of constituents.

Later Tuesday, Clements offered a statement expressing “absolute confidence” and “respect” for both Evnen and Ricketts.

“I know they believe ensuring the integrity of our electoral process is central to our democracy. I signed the 50 state election audit letter because it was a small way that I could register my lack of confidence in the 2020 electoral process in several other states.”

Ricketts said concerns about 2020 were investigated.

“Every case of voter fraud must be investigated,” Ricketts said in statement. “The Attorney General investigated every report made this last cycle. I have full confidence in the Secretary of State and election commissioners who have been successfully running elections, including in 2020. We will continue to work to strengthen the integrity of our election system.”

Evnen did not respond to a request seeking comment Tuesday.

In November, Evnen touted the state general election as historic. He said a record number of voters cast their ballots in the midst of a pandemic and “within the existing legal framework in our state.” Trump supporters have criticized states where election officials made changes in election rules in light of the pandemic.

His office noted that all 93 counties got new ballot counting machines and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant ballot marking equipment and the state received an award from the National Association of State Election Directors for its work in election security.

Evnen, however, backs efforts to pass voter identification requirements for Nebraska, even though he acknowledges that cases of fraud that could be prevented by such laws have been virtually nonexistent in the state.

But Jane Kleeb, the Nebraska Democratic Party chairwoman, said, “It continues to baffle me that Republicans mistrust their Republican colleagues who are responsible for the election security in our state.”

“I know Sen. Clements mostly discusses issues with rural voters, but since he has now been gerrymandered into Lancaster County, he might want to consider there are voters who like both Democrats and Republicans,” she said. Clements' newly redrawn legislative district includes a slice of northeast Lincoln and Lancaster County, as well as Cass County.

Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers posted the letter Monday on Twitter and was the lead signer. In her Twitter biography, she describes herself as a “conservative America-first pro-Trump Republican.” 

This article originally ran on omaha.com.

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