Battle lines were forming Monday in advance of this week's probable opening debate on legislation to require photo IDs to vote in Nebraska.

A coalition of almost 30 Nebraska organizations, ranging from AARP to ASUN, the student government at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, declared their opposition to the voter ID bill.

"Voter ID is unnecessary, costly and would make it harder for some in our communities to exercise their constitutionally protected right to vote," said Bri McLarty of Nebraskans for Civic Reform, who acted as spokeswoman for the Voting Rights Coalition.

The voter ID requirement would adversely affect low-income Nebraskans, minority citizens, students, senior citizens and the disabled, said McLarty, her organization's director of voting rights.

Supporters of the bill (LB111) argue that photo identification is necessary to prevent voter fraud and note that photo IDs would be provided to people who do not have them at no cost.

McLarty said providing free photo IDs could cost the state more than $1 million.

Voter photo ID legislation has fueled a national battleground between Republicans, who support it, and Democrats, who argue that the requirement is designed to suppress votes cast by groups of citizens who normally vote heavily Democratic.

Supporting testimony at a legislative committee hearing on LB111 pointed at concerns about potential voting by immigrants who are illegally settled in the United States.

Opponents of the bill introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson of O'Neill said there is no evidence of voter fraud in Nebraska.

The bill is expected to trigger a filibuster in the Legislature mounted by opponents who hope to prevent the measure from ever reaching a final vote.

Other members of the coalition opposing the bill include the Nebraska State Education Association, ACLU of Nebraska, Common Cause Nebraska, League of Women Voters of Nebraska, Nebraska Appleseed, NAACP in both Lincoln and Omaha, the American Association of University Women of Nebraska and Bold Nebraska.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or dwalton@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Don Walton, a Husker and Yankee fan, is a longtime Journal Star political and government reporter.

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