With a federal commitment in hand to help states manage risks to their election infrastructure, Sen. John Murante of Gretna said Thursday he will step up his efforts to establish voter photo identification requirements in Nebraska.

"The people of Nebraska absolutely support and demand voter identification," Murante said during a Capitol news conference.

"Properly crafted voter ID laws do not suppress voter turnout," he said. "This can be done without turning a single voter away."

Murante already has a proposal pending in the Legislature that would seek a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to establish voter ID requirements in Nebraska. Senators could resume discussion of that item when they launch their 2018 session in January.

The measure (LR1CA) was trapped at first-stage floor consideration by a filibuster last spring, falling seven votes short of the 33 senators required to end debate.

Murante's motion to invoke cloture failed on a 26-17 count.

On Thursday, Murante once again rejected arguments that voter photo ID requirements suppress, and are sometimes designed to suppress, voter participation.

Opponents argue minority citizens, older Americans, people with disabilities, students and young mobile Americans are particularly affected.

Most of those impacted groups represent traditional pockets of Democratic support, critics have noted.

Murante said voter identification requirements are "a common sense proposal that has been politicized, and demonized to a certain extent."

Voter ID assurances are especially needed now when "public confidence in our election system has been undermined" by reports of voter irregularities and instances of voter fraud, he said.

Murante, chairman of the Legislature's Government and Military Affairs Committee, scheduled his news conference after receiving a letter from Trump administration officials pledging federal cooperation in ensuring the integrity of elections.

All of that is unfolding as Congress is investigating evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Christopher Krebs, a senior official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, wrote Murante a letter noting that election systems have been defined as critical infrastructure and informing him that the federal government stands ready to provide "prioritized assistance (in) efforts to manage risks to the election infrastructure."

Murante had previously written officials at the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity urging consideration of a federal-state partnership that would allow election administrators to instantaneously check the citizenship status of individuals seeking to register to vote.

In that letter, Murante also said the federal government should financially assist states in procuring replacement equipment for aging election infrastructure.

"Unfortunately, most of that technology is coming to the end of its useful life and states do not have the funding to procure new technology," he wrote.

Murante is completing his second and final term as a state senator and is a Republican candidate for state treasurer in 2018. 

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

On Twitter @LJSDon.

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Political reporter

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

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