Meet The Woman Who Helped Create Nebraska's Weird Electoral Vote Sytem.

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 25 2013 5:55 PM

How Nebraska's Weird Electoral Vote System Came To Be

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While Virginia's proposed electoral-vote-by-district plan may have already jumped the shark, it has resurrected the question: Why do Nebraska and Maine use this seemingly arcane electoral vote method in the first place?

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Enter Dianna Schimek. She's the former Nebraska state senator who is largely responsible for her state using the congressional district method of electoral votes. After originally learned about the vote-by-district method at a national meeting, she introduced legislation to change Nebraska's system that was enacted in 1992.

What benefits did she see in the system? "It is one that I think will energize the electorate and perhaps even bring more candidates to Nebraska, although certainly that wasn’t the overall selling point that I used."

The bill originally received bipartisan support, but Schimek says after the second round of debate, Republicans suddenly did an about-face.

Why? "I have no idea. I just know the Republican chairman sent a letter to every Republican legislator at that time saying, 'Don’t vote for this bill.'"

The law squeaked through, and has remained despite a recent attempt by Republicans to do away with the system:

In separate action, the [Republican state central] committee approved a resolution that would deny party support to any Republican state senator who fails to support legislation returning Nebraska to a winner-take-all presidential electoral vote system.

That resolution went nowhere, but a gerrymander helped keep the normally liberal, metropolitan 2nd Congressional district from going blue for Obama in 2012.

Emma Roller is a Slate editorial assistant. Follow her on Twitter.

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