In recent days, it has come to light that the Nebraska Democratic Party attempted to furnish voter registration forms to resettlement refugees, Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale said Tuesday.Gale said the burning question is if the action violated any laws, encouraging non-citizens to vote.
Jane Kleeb, the Democratic Party chairwoman, said that on March 18, party staff donated about 50 baskets of items to Lutheran Family Services and the Refugee Empowerment Center. The baskets contained baby formula, flatware and dishware, as well as voter registration forms and letters from Kleeb explaining what it means to be a Democrat, the Omaha World Herald reported.
“There is nothing illegal about what we did,” Kleeb told the World Herald, adding that the form clearly explains that only citizens are eligible to vote. She said the intention was to acquaint refugees with the registration process and "let them know that the Democratic Party welcomes them."
Gale said his office is undertaking an investigation into the facts, and he suggested the matter might be referred to the Nebraska Attorney General’s office, which has more authority to conduct criminal investigations.
In response, Kleeb said the same voter registration forms are readily available to anyone directly from the Secretary of State’s website.
Kleeb said county election officials, not party officials, verify voter registrations.
Kleeb said she met Tuesday with Sen. John Murante of south Omaha, and together they plan to ask Gale to put a voter registration form online that is watermarked with the word "sample," on the state website. It could be used by any group that is educating young people or refugees about how the process in Nebraska works to become a registered voter.
Kleeb said the Democratic Party has full confidence in county election commissioners when they use their local systems to verify voter registration forms that come into their office.
A bill in the state legislature would require voters to have and show identification before casting a ballot. Republicans said it would remove suspicions that Democrats are registering unqualified voters. Democrats say it is an attempt by Republicans to suppress voter turnout.
“We believe in our voting systems and the basic fact that voter fraud is not an issue in our state or country,” Kleeb said, “despite the false claims of President Trump. Unfortunately, some Republicans in our state continue to use this bogeyman to put in place practices that suppress the vote.”