LINCOLN, Neb. – Today, the ACLU of Nebraska launched a first-of-its-kind, statewide voter education campaign by mailing more than 3,700 pamphlets, voter registration forms and early voting request forms to Nebraska's county jails.
The campaign is targeted at Nebraskans impacted by the criminal justice system. It is inspired by frequent voting rights concerns and questions received through the ACLU of Nebraska’s legal intake system.
The new "Know Your Rights" pamphlet is a key element of the campaign. It includes voter eligibility requirements, a step-by-step guide to voting in jail, a glossary of important terms, and common questions about voting rights for Nebraskans with criminal justice system involvement, including the rights of Nebraskans presumed innocent yet detained pretrial as well as those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.
The pamphlet also clearly explains Nebraska’s arbitrary two-year waiting period for people with felony convictions, a source of frequent questions and confusion. Rose Godinez, legal and policy counsel at the ACLU of Nebraska, says the goal is to provide clarity to Nebraska voters, corrections officials and election officials so that every eligible voter can make their voice heard.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, yet far too many Nebraskans have been disenfranchised due to criminal system involvement – both directly by Nebraska law and indirectly by the confusion and chaos surrounding application of this law," Godinez said. "The ACLU frequently hears that Nebraskans who are presently or formerly incarcerated face barriers when they try to learn about and exercise their voting rights. These barriers disproportionately harm low-income Nebraskans and Nebraskans of color. Proactive educational efforts are vitally important because our democracy works best when all eligible voters can participate in the process.”
The pamphlet is available for download at the link below and has been shared with voting rights and civic engagement groups across Nebraska.