Speaking of Nebraska: State Senators Defend Redistricting Process

Oct. 7, 2021, 4 p.m. ·

Senator Justin Wayne answers a Question on Speaking of Nebraska
Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha says "an independent commission cannot truly be independent if you’re going to engage the community."

The senators who led the Nebraska legislature’s redistricting committee say they are not fans of changing the state’s redistricting process to include an independent commission.

Nebraska is like most states and relies on the legislature to both draw and vote on the political maps that guide the state's elections. Other states, like Iowa, use a commission of legislative staff to draw the maps. From there, the legislature vote on the maps. Sen. Justin Wayne of Omaha, who served as the vice chair of the redistricting committee, said he’s OK with the current Nebraska system.

"I think an independent commission cannot truly be independent if you’re going to engage the community because the community, by themselves, are not independent," he said. "They have a voice; they have a belief; they think certain things should be one way or the other. And, so, you’re still back to the same thing, in my opinion.”

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan, the chair of the committee, agreed with Wayne. "As soon as you have politicians appointing people, nobody's going to believe they're completely independent," she said.

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The new maps are based on the results of the latest U.S. Census that was released earlier this year. In 2016, the state legislature passed a bill that would have changed Nebraska's process by using an independent redistricting commission. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts vetoed the bill, calling the it unconstitutional because lawmakers and not members of a commission are required by the state constitution to oversee the political process that occurs every 10 years.