Nebraska Lawmakers Block Trump-Backed Changes to Electoral System


Nebraska legislators on Wednesday night overwhelmingly declined to change how the state awards its Electoral College votes to a winner-take-all system.

Shrugging off pressure from former President Donald J. Trump and Gov. Jim Pillen, who have pushed Republicans to move forward on the issue, members of the unicameral State Legislature rejected an effort to attach a provision that would have made the change to an unrelated bill. Had it passed, the change could have helped Mr. Trump in his race against President Biden.

It is still possible that the provision could be attached to another bill, but there are only days to go before the legislative session ends.

Nebraska is one of two states — the other being Maine — that award an electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district, meaning it’s possible for a candidate who loses the state to nonetheless receive some credit.

In Nebraska’s case, this means two electoral votes are awarded to the statewide winner and three are awarded to the district winners. Two of the districts, and the state as a whole, are solidly Republican. But the Second District, in and around Omaha, is a swing district and voted for Mr. Biden in 2020.

In an election as close as this November’s may be, that single electoral vote could be decisive. There is a realistic scenario — Mr. Biden wins Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin; Mr. Trump wins Arizona, Georgia and Nevada — in which it could make the difference between a Biden victory and an Electoral College tie. If that were to happen, the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives, and Mr. Trump would be likely to win. A tie would be resolved with each state delegation getting one vote, not by a vote of the full chamber.

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