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'It’s time to update our Constitution’: Banning all forms of slavery on Nebraska’s ballot

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2020 at 4:46 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Proponents of the Amendment to fully ban slavery in Nebraska said the Constitution is outdated and should’ve been taken care of over 100 years ago. Although outdated, proponents are worried the language of the measure may confuse voters.

If you look at the Nebraska Constitution, you’ll see slavery is prohibited but with an exception if used as punishment for crime.

Treasurer of Vote for Eliminating Slavery in Nebraska Melina Cohen said, "Slavery is not a Nebraska value and we need to get rid of it. It’s 2020; it’s time to update our Constitution.”

According to the Lancaster County Attorney, this amendment would strike this specific part of the Constitution thus creating no options for slavery in the state. Cohen said reactions to the measure have been pretty consistent.

“The number one reaction I get from voters is shocked," Cohen said. "They assume this is something we took care of a long time ago and the fact is we didn’t.”

Senator Justin Wayne led the initiative and the Nebraska Legislature voted unanimously last year to bring this issue to voters. The message remains clear from proponents, including Cohen.

“You want to vote for it to get rid of slavery," Cohen said. "A vote against would create slavery in our state’s most foundational document.”

Part of the reason proponents are concerned is because Colorado had a similar measure in 2016 and it did not pass. It eventually passed in 2018, but proponents say it likely failed at first due to confusing language.

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