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NE: Election chief’s future in for a fight

By   /   December 7, 2012  /   30 Comments

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

PACKING? Dave Phipps, Douglas County election commissioner.

LINCOLN — After months of voting complaints in Omaha — charges that Republican Douglas County Election Commissioner Dave Phipps is trying to stop Democrats from casting ballots — a panel of lawmakers today got their first earful.

They also heard from Phipps’ staunchest ally, who said Phipps is being unjustly accused and harassed.

All this follows Nebraska Watchdog’s exclusive report that a bill is in the works to send Phipps packing. During a Government Committee hearing several witnesses noted Phipps’ controversial decision earlier this year that closed dozens of polling places for the May primary.

Phipps — who said he was only trying to save money —apologized and re-opened some of the sites for the November election.

But Phipps’ critics argue the damage was already done.

Willie Hamilton of the NAACP testified that Phipps’ actions were no accident.

According to Hamilton, some inner city Omahans went to vote totally confused, having received three separate voter location cards in the mail from Phipps’ office.

“One, OK,” said Hamilton. “Two, maybe. Three, ridiculous.”

But State Sen. Scott Laughtenbaugh, a former Douglas County election commissioner, came to Phipps’ defense.

Laughtenbaugh says Phipps has not been out to suppress the Democratic vote.

“This is a bizarre vendetta against Mr. Phipps,” said Laughtenbaugh.

Where the committee goes from here is anyone’s guess, but as Nebraska Watchdog first reported, State Sen. Steve Lathrop is likely to push a bill changing how Douglas County’s election commissioner is named.

For nearly 100 years the governor has appointed the commissioner in the state’s most populous county.

But with Democrats charging Phipps and fellow Republican Gov. Dave Heineman of dirty politics , Lathop — an Omaha Democrat — is looking at two plans.

One would make the elected county clerk the election commissioner; the other would find the Douglas County Board making the appointment.

Lathrop is sure of one thing. Phipps has to go.

“I don’t want to accuse anyone of being incompetent or political, but I don’t know what other explanations there are,” Lathrop told Nebraska Watchdog.

Contact Joe Jordan at [email protected]

To subscribe to News Updates from Nebraska Watchdog at no cost, click here.





Joe formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Malone1610

    No doubt Lathrop would like to see a Democrap take Phipps place.

    Lathrop said “I don’t want to accuse anyone of being incompetent or political, but I don’t know what other explanations there are,”
    Here’s an explanation Senator Lathrop, you are the south end of a horse facing north!

  • I like the idea to make the county clerk also the election commissioner. Sounds like that would save money. What a surprise that Senator Lautenbaugh would come to Phipp’s defense. Both the Senator and Phipps owe Governor Heineman for appointing them.

  • Bam

    The Dems need to get over themselves. Find someone capable of getting elected governor and THEN you can appoint one of your own as election commissioner! Until then, shut your cake holes. If you really want to make a difference at election time, get behind a voter ID law.

  • There has got to be a better way, than to make election commissioners appointed by whichever parties Governor is in power.
    Perhaps it to should be an elected position too. No, thats not a good idea. Ya’ end up with someone like un-american Joe Arpello down in Arizona.
    We could set up an unpaid board of elections, Repubs. and Demos. represented, and an organization such as the League of Women Voters, and possibly a non-voting media representation to help keep things above board.

    As our Governor has repeatedly demonstrated, he is incapable of making decisions in a non-partician fashion.

  • Watching_From_Lincoln

    Better yet, let’s also include Lancaster and Sarpy counties (the other two counties whose election commissioners are appointed by the Governor) in with Douglas as a dual function of the county clerk’s office. Then there’s no appearance of impropriety with any appointed lap dogs. Phipps’ biggest problem was that he was so stupid that he thought he could just openly and blatantly enact the ALEC game plan for voter disenfranchisement because he was protected by the Governor.

    Interesting, too, that even though HeineyMan’s appointees are in these two counties, they did not enact “cost saving measures” like Phipps did. Could this be because 1) Neither Lancaster nor Sarpy counties have the minority population density that Douglas County does and 2) The Nebraska Republican Party was majorly embarrassed that CD-2’s Electoral College vote went to Obama in 2008 from this “solid” Red(neck) state. Between the 2010 Gerrymandering of CD-2 and Phipps’ disenfranchisement actions, the NEGOP wanted to make sure that CD-2 wasn’t not only an “embarrassment” to them again, but possibly the one Electoral College vote that would give Obama the election over Romney.

    No, to this intelligent, free-thinking Republican, Phipps’ actions and motives were crystal clear, and being too stupid to do this on his own, was well coached and taking his “orders” from above, perhaps HeineyMan, perhaps Failsagain, perhaps from AFP or one of the many ALEC Senators in our Unicameral, as there are many traitors to Democracy well entrenched in our midst.

    At least if an ELECTED official is overseeing the precincts and election process, there is a degree of accountability to the PEOPLE by the process of either impeachment or voting out of office next cycle. As it stands now, there is NO accountability for the lapdogs of the little dictator that appoints them.

  • Goblin Shark

    Governor Johanns appointed Scott Lautenbaugh

  • Goblin Shark

    And you’re what dropped from that end!

  • Goblin Shark

    Voter ID seems common sense, but why would a Republican be against local control? Voter ID is in no way related to this discussion

  • Bam

    Oh, I disagree, Shark – they’re very much related. It’s not a local control issue, it’s a prevention of fraud issue. The election commissioner post was created 100 years ago because of fraud in Douglas County – voter ID is necessary because of voter fraud. Who would have more interest in holding sway over a Douglas County election commissioner – a governor or a Douglas County board?

  • Meanwhile. It is being leaked that Bigfoot is finally coming out of hiding to become the election commissioner in Douglas county. Bigfoot could not be reached for comment as no one knows where he is at. Atheists have insisted that any election commissioner have no faith in the election system or any faith based system. The Reason Society is said to be preparing Steven Hawkings to apply for the job. When in the job he will, by the powers of the position, declare the whole election system so ignorant that only he is able will to pick the winners without a vote, saving tons of money and time. And finally, Mike Boyle has received a donation from George Soros to buy kits that will transform all non democrats into democrats. He states he is the only one who knows the truth and it is for the health of the universe that such kits be given out and no one notified of their contents. They will be labeled the Anti Fool kit that all must take to be saved from death and stupidly arguing with the peanut gallery. For those who did not noticed, this letter is part of a conspiracy to convince you that there really is no USA, just an arm of the Iranian republic set up oversees to make them look good. It is working as planned!

  • L.A.

    Incompetence has no party. Why this guy hasn’t been asked to resign is beyond logic given his weak resume as evidenced by the multiple oops moments. I don’t think he suppressed those unmotivated to vote, but he sure has made a mess of the process

  • Jazzee

    Like democratic governors don’t make partisan decisions???? league of women voters??? and un-American Joe??? WOW thought your party was the party of tolerance …..oh yeah not really the deputy chief to the election commissioner is a democrat perhaps you should ask that person about all the accusations or demand accountability from that person…..no not a good idea? what a joke this bogus campaign has become against phipps………….voters have numerous opportunities to have their votes heard so tired of it all

  • Jazzee

    local control???? How?? and how is that ‘local’ control working out for you with a gang of clowns on the council and county board???? just askin’

  • Jazzee

    not just him he doesn’t make the rules check it out

  • Oh thanks for the clarification. Did not Senator Laughehtenbaugh get appointed to the Unicam at first? Doesn’t he thank Gov Heineman for that? That’s the G O P’s affirmative action.

  • Why do these half-baked Negroes want to get rid of Phipps? He helped the democratic North Omaha to become engaged in the political system. We should keep him. Plus, what has the Democratic party done for the minorities in Nebraska? If you look at the violence and conditions in North Omaha, blacks should leave that democratic musical party and vote as independents. Can you name one thing that any black elected officials have done for Black folks? The only exception is Ernie Chambers. The rest of the Negroes should get off of their lap dog positions and get their teeth back from that racist party.

  • JoeSixPack56

    What will Phipps’ get when he leaves? A big fat pension for the rest of his life? Health care paid for by the taxpayers?

  • ProgressiveOasis

    Bunch of scumbag progressives and their fellow travelers trying to make sure they can subvert the voting process ala Jim Suttle busing bums and paying them to vote in the recall. Lathrop should focus on chasing ambulances and not trying to be the next Dem sacrificial lamb in the governor’s race. If it was up to Lathrop et.al., all those illegal aliens in South O and all the felons in North O would be voting…democrat of course.

  • Then stop commenting! The democrat who is subordinate to Phipps should also be critized.

  • Jazzee

    Get off Phipps’ back…this thing is out of control
    another leftie tactic….too much time on their hands

  • I get your point, but Jim Suttle is a DINO (Democrat in Name Only)!!! How else do you defeat a recall election where most Republican dominated Precints vote to defeat the Recall and keep you in power? Come on Mann, Think About it!

  • Pat Boyle

    But we rule the universe!!

  • Pat Boyle

    Now we need to stop voter frauds ugly sister Voter Suppression from that was ordered from the governor’s office.

  • Pat Boyle

    They didn’t vote for the recall. Done.

  • Pat Boyle

    He doesn’t make the rules and he was just following orders.

  • Bam

    HA! “Voter suppression” – now THERE’S a fraud if there ever was one! Who’s prevented from voting by mail? Who’s prevented from voting on election day? “Too far to walk”? Please – If the Democrats can afford to bus in homeless people and pay them to vote for mayor, why are they powerless to rent vans and drive in people who truly need it on election day? “Voter suppression” is the lie du jour for the Democrats.

  • Kevin

    My polling place changed. I did not whine about it. These people just need to shut the F- up and deal with it.

  • The Republican party is in the pockets of the wealthiest Nebraskans, and they have the best propaganda machine in the state. The thing that always amazes me, even when the voters buy the gruel the Republicans sell, the working class voters are seldom happy. You would think they would eventually realize the R’s are not really representating them.

  • Sorry folks, but Nebraska Watchdog is missing half the story. Kris Pierce stated far more information at link below and in doing so leaves foot prints of how the far left are using provisional ballots to accomplish voter fraud. http://www.politicalinsidersreport.com/2012/12/11/how-tyranny-hit-voters-in-douglas-county/

  • Bam

    Damn, I guess I didn’t hear Warren Buffett and Dick Holland lost their money! Who are the wealthiest Nebraskans now?